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HostedBizz Recognized by Ottawa Business Journal

We are thrilled that HostedBizz have been recognized by The Ottawa Business Journal for extraordinary growth over the past 3 years.

We have seen very solid growth in the number of customers that we have helped move to the cloud.  Increasingly, clients are seeing the benefits of moving their computing to the cloud.  The cloud delivers substantial benefits with respect to redundancy, security, ease of management and cost compared to traditional on premise servers.

Customers are also looking to HostedBizz to roll out cloud backup for business continuity and disaster recovery at very affordable costs.  These services ensure that customers can get comfort having copies of their critical data stored in our cloud.  This allows for files to be retrieved in the event of accidental deletion, but more importantly, these backups can be restored onto cloud servers within the HostedBizz Cloud which allows for a full restoration of services in the event of a disaster or major network outage.

We want to thank all of our customers and employees that have helped us win this award and we are looking forward to continuing our success as we onboard more customers and broaden our services.

A reprint of the Ottawa Business Journal can be found here …. OBJ Recognizes HostedBizz

Thank you all.

 

HostedBizz Team

LOGO 2016 live text


Why your Company needs a Solid Backup Solution

Many customers talk about cloud backup solutions and how cheap they need to be.   Cost objectives can often mask the initial criteria as to what the backup solution is for and what disaster recovery scenarios that customers are trying to protect themselves against.

What are your requirements for Cloud Backup?

  • User friendly, anywhere access?
  • Secure and private storage of your important data?
  • Additional archival storage capacity?
  • Automated backups?
  • Full disaster recovery capabilities?

Determining the criteria that you need to accomplish with an offsite backup solution is the primary goal when choosing a cloud backup vendor/application.  After determining the overall objectives for your off-site backup requirements, then and only then, is it time to look at choosing the right partner/application for your cloud backup requirements.

Price vs Value

There are a growing number of low cost, cloud backup providers entering the market.  The reason that this trend continues is due to the relative ease of setting up a low cost backup solution; it is not difficult to buy inexpensive storage hardware, leverage open source applications and rack up equipment in a closet to run a cloud backup solution.

The real question, however,  when looking for a cloud backup solution is not “what does it cost?” but what VALUE does it provide to your company?  Will it meet all of your requirements for retention, user access, privacy, security, reliability, redundancy etc.  With free backup services, you generally get what you pay for.  In choosing your backup vendor, it is imperative that you consider the following:

Solution Certifications – military grade digital and physical security.  256-bit AES and 448 Blowfish encryption with multiple tiers of security;  Iris scanning, private secured facility, caged and locked cabinets along with host level firewall protection as well as account level firewall protection using best of breed security hardware.

High Speed Network – Check to ensure that the facility has at least 1Gbps bandwidth and has connectivity to multiple ISPs.

Privacy is Critical – Once your data is stored, make sure that only you have access to it.  This can be provisioned by having a unique encryption code per user during set-up, required for all access… don’t lose it!

Flexible storage – As your data requirements grow, make sure that your vendor has the capacity to materially grow their data store.

100% Canadian – This is a major requirement for Canadian business.  Companies want their client data to remain in sovereign Canada.  Make sure that your network access never traverses outside of Canada.

Easy to use – With backup solutions you need to ensure that the end users can retrieve lost or accidentally deleted files.  Make sure that the solution is simple enough to remove this retrieval requirement from the IT department.

We would be happy to help you through the potential mine field of different backup solutions.  Call us.

 

Cory Mac Donell


Eight reasons to test your data backups and disaster recovery plan

Cars, electronic goods and software are just three types of products that manufacturers check for quality before they’re put “in production.” Imagine what might happen if companies didn’t test their products before buyers try them!

The same logic applies to computer backups and disaster recovery (DR) plans. Or at least it should. Organizations must design and plan their backups to cover all their important systems. Yet many companies still “test” (i.e. use) their backups and DR plans for the first time during an actual recovery, after a malware attack, hardware failure or other disastrous event that cuts off their access to important systems, applications and data.

The short-sighted nature of skipping tests ought to be self-evident. If it isn’t, the following reasons definitely spell out the importance of making sure backups and DR work before you actually need them.

Gain trust in a system

Once a backup plan and system has been implemented, it must be tested immediately. The sooner any shortcomings are found and addressed, the more likely it is that backups will serve their intended purpose.

It’s normal to discover flaws in design or missed details after implementation. But people sometimes are surprised. The dependability of traditional consumer-grade backup and disaster recovery systems can mislead business leaders into believing that enterprise backups work just as well “out of the box.” In fact, the more complex the computing environment, the more customized the backup processes and DR plans must be and the less likely it is that a solution works properly when it’s first implemented.

Regularly scheduled (or surprise) tests provide ongoing confirmation of the effectiveness of backup and DR plans. The time to learn that a backup disk is faulty or a file is corrupted is NOT when the data it’s supposed to store is required!

Make sure the plans fit the business environment

Are all servers covered? What about data created on notebook computers or mobile devices? Does the backup plan retain data far enough in the past to ensure the organization meets regulatory requirements? Do backups make the organization “e-discovery ready” should litigation arise? These are just some of the questions organizations must ask when they test their backup and DR plans.

Gain understanding of the DR process

Once IT professionals do practice runs, they understand how the DR plan works. They will also gain the confidence to tackle any “This is not a drill!” scenarios.

Learn how to work with parties involved in DR

When a DR team tests the plan, members learn how to work with each other. They can also collaborate on changing the DR plan whenever updates are needed.

Determine a reasonable recovery time objective (RTO)

RTO is the amount of time a system or data can be unavailable before a business suffers material consequences. Those consequences usually mean the business starts to lose money.

Should a system go offline, people will ask how long it will take to bring back online. Timing a test recovery effort gives an approximate answer to that question. Timing specific phases of the process helps IT staff identify potential pinch points in the process and re-shape up-to-date RTO estimates during the recovery process.

If tests reveal that the RTO is inadequate, changes can be made in the plan, the systems or elsewhere to achieve an acceptable RTO.

Keep plans consistent with the current computing environment

Organizations regularly implement new systems, replace old ones, add users to their computing environments, retire old systems and take other actions that affect current backup and DR plans, even potentially rendering them obsolete.

Once updated, they must be tested again against the current environment.

Organizations can also schedule periodic tests to detect changes and possible issues that might fly under the radar.

Enable offline testing of changes to a DR plan

Once backups exist, copies of those backups can be used in virtual machines to test changes to the DR plan without affecting production environments.

Such “offline testing” helps organizations do things like reduce RTO and incorporate changes to the backup and DR plan, all without hampering daily operations or taxing production environments.

Successful tests cost less than the consequences of unsuccessful recoveries

Losing data that organizations use to serve internal users, customers, or both can result in a variety of negative consequences like: litigation, lost business, and the negative impacts on cash flow such events cause. Any one of these consequences will likely cost less than the time required for regular testing of backups and DR plan

We understand the importance of making sure backup processes and disaster recovery plans work properly before they’re needed. Want to know more? Contact us. We care about this stuff and we’ll gladly answer your questions.

Jim Stechyson


Considerations when launching your Cloud Practice

Value-added resellers (VARs) and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) need to offer cloud-based options to compete for and retain business, but many VARs recoil at the daunting thought of building cloud infrastructure that easily and cost-effectively scales.  Cloud requires a substantial up-front capital investment.  That financial burden seems to grow when VARs contemplate the transition from capital sales revenues to Monthly Recurring Revenues (MRRs).  The impact on the VAR’s business model becomes multifaceted and a little intimidating.

This way of thinking doesn’t jibe with reality. VARs don’t manufacture the hardware or code the systems they resell to customers.  Why would they need to build their own cloud infrastructure to deliver cloud services?  They need to resell cloud services and focus on the value they can add in the process.

To effectively resell the offerings of a Cloud Service Provider (CSP), VARs need to consider certain criteria.  Some are visible to customers.  Others are not.  Here is a quick checklist.

Don’t build – label

CSPs can offer “white-label” cloud services that VARs can incorporate into their brands.  These services should look and work like something the VARs built and maintain, even if it belongs to a third party.

Create a “cloud suite” of IT products

Few customers move their entire IT infrastructure, all their applications and data, to the cloud in one fell swoop.  That’s why VARs need to offer a gentler migration path that’s easier for customers to embark upon.

CSPs that offer a suite of products, like backup, disaster recovery, cloud servers and so forth, help VARs create a “cloud strategy” their customers can use to move IT operations and assets to the cloud at a comfortable pace.  Such CSPs can help VARs set up their cloud suites and roll them out using their own brands.

Add value for current customers

Customers may already have all the services they need.  VARs who want to convert customers to the cloud (and its MRRs) must do more than simply replace traditional offerings with cloud IT.  They need to differentiate the cloud.  If they don’t, cloud looks like a commodity approach in which cost is the only difference.

VARs must design and build cloud practices that create value unavailable elsewhere. That extra value, whatever form it takes, can result in incremental revenue streams that supplement MRR.

Remember what prospective customers want

Differentiation and added value can help VARs and MSPs move existing customers to the cloud.  Prospective customers may notice differentiators, but they initially shop for “bread and butter” services and features like: backup, uninterrupted access to business data, disaster recovery, security, support and so forth.  VARs and MSPs that offer highly demanded services via the cloud effectively expand their product portfolios.

Plan for revised cash flows

Cloud-based services lead to MRR, which stabilizes cash flow in the long run.  Cloud is typically more profitable than on-premise technology sales and makes it easier to nurture ongoing relationships with clients.

But these cash flow, profitability and customer engagement improvements can take time to materialize.  That’s why VARs need to effectively launch cloud service sales and minimize foreseeable cash flow issues.  VARs can use tactics like the following to balance these concerns:

  • VARs can sell cloud services as part of their capital sales.  For instance, selling a server gives a VAR the opportunity to incorporate cloud backup for the applications and data that are on the server.
  • VARs can also promote the positive effects cloud has on a client’s financial statements when they replace large capital investments that are difficult to forecast accurately with more manageable monthly operating expenditures.

Modify sales compensation plans to reflect MRR

VARs need to re-evaluate not only their own cash flows, but also those of their salespeople.  Sales compensation plans must reflect the value of winning long-term contracts while helping the VAR evolve into a cloud-based MRR.

Paying large commissions up front to encourage salespeople to close long-term contracts creates an immediate culture change but can harm short-term cash flow.  To minimize this harm, VARs can pay commissions each month on recurring margins and otherwise restructure compensation plans.

Choose the right partner

The right CSP contributes greatly to the initial and ongoing success of a VAR’s cloud services. The right CSP helps the VAR launch the right services for customers.  The right CSP offers services that the VAR can brand as its own. The right CSP effectively supports the VAR’s cloud business with marketing, technical and business support and advice.

Want to provide enterprise-class cloud services for your customers?  Give us a call.  We can help.

Paul Butcher


Nine business benefits of using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

When you decide to bring a new technology into your business, you’d like to shorten the time it takes between decision and usage of said technology. Here’s a great way to shorten that road: use hardware and other systems that are already set up and fully managed instead of buying and configuring your own.

Faster implementation may be one of the first benefits you notice when you opt for infrastructure as a service (IaaS), but it won’t be the last. Consider these other advantages of putting your hardware in the cloud instead of your office.

Highly specialized server expertise

Cloud service providers (CSPs) employ experts who diligently care for servers – and their customers’ data and applications – full-time. They use their expertise to monitor the infrastructure to ensure that nothing fails.

Enterprise-grade security

Few companies outside the field specialize in data security the way CSPs must. They apply best practices to every facet of security, from multiple physical access controls to sophisticated malware defenses. As a result, client applications and data enjoy better protection than they would if they resided in client offices.

Enterprise-grade redundancy

CSPs design their infrastructure to ensure redundancy at every level. Redundancy means that, even if a component (a router, a server blade, an Internet connection) in the CSP’s infrastructure fails, customers never lose the services they pay for.

Effective backups

Access to business applications and data isn’t lost if a server hiccups. CSPs keep multiple copies of your data, often in different locations, Beyond providing redundancy, these multiple copies help customers restore accidentally deleted data and deal with other data integrity issues.

Disaster recovery

Rather than work from data based in the cloud, certain customers choose to house their disaster recovery solution in the cloud for premise-based servers. Should regular service be lost, the customers can quickly restore infrastructure in the cloud, keep access to critical data and services, and keep their businesses in operation.

Reduced IT expenses

Consider all the up-front and ongoing costs of new systems: servers, software, operating systems, cooling, staff to manage these assets, and so on.

CSPs enable you to share many of these assets and related costs with their other clients, subject to your requirements. You pay an amount that more closely matches the computing capacity, storage and expertise you need.

To stay competitive, CSPs continually upgrade their infrastructure to keep their technology current. Their customers benefit from the latest technology with none of the attendant additional capital costs.

Flexible capacity

You can quickly add or subtract computing capacity as your needs expand or contract. This technical flexibility means your computing dollars pay only for the cycles you use. This elasticity also allows you to set up trials or demos in the cloud, then tear them down when you no longer need them.

Easier budgeting

Fitting recurring fees for cloud services into an operating budget is easier than squeezing a project cost into a capital budget. And unlike project costs that can spiral out of control, monthly fees remain stable and predictable.

Interested in the business benefits of choosing IaaS over premises-based computing projects? Call us. We’ll help you understand how IaaS can help you run your business more smoothly and profitably.

 

Jim Stechyson


8 Common Mistakes Businesses Make When Switching To The Cloud

You’ve said it before, but now you’re ready.

This is the year you adopt the Cloud at your company.

You’re not alone.

One study found that 80% of US small businesses are going to be using the Cloud by 2020. That’s up from 37% right now.

Why are companies making the switch?

You can store company data and run critical applications on secure servers that are offsite and accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. You can use the cloud to backup files so you’re your critical data is always there in case something unplanned happens.

The Cloud also reduces IT expenses, helps streamline workflow processes, provides flexibility in data management and that’s just for starters.

But the Cloud, remarkable as it is, won’t deliver all of these benefits automatically.

To make the Cloud work for your business, you’ve got to be aware of common pitfalls and avoid them.

  1. Not Planning or “Under” Planning

Don’t assume that the Cloud is a one-size fits all package. And don’t assume that all providers are created equal.

Your company’s IT needs are unique and you need to look for the right match for them. To put it simply, before you start your search for a Cloud solution, do your homework.

Get strategic. Why are you going to the Cloud? What are your IT goals and priorities?

If there are multiple decision makers in your company, get input from all of them.

  1. Failing to Anticipate Your Bandwidth Needs

Can your current Internet access provide you and your team with an adequate, reliable connection to the cloud?

You might need to connect with your provider and discuss your expectations for increased usage once you make the switch. You want enough bandwidth so you everyone on your team has efficient access to the Cloud.

  1. Assuming Your Data Will Be Backed Up in the Cloud And Secured

A common mistake and a seriously scary one that many small businesses make is assuming that the Cloud services supplier backs up data. This is not always the case.

Make sure the provider you go with has a plan in place to regularly backup your data. If not, make sure you do.

  1. Not Securing Your Data And Ignoring Privacy Laws

Obviously you want your data to be secure. Check with your prospective provider to see how they handle potential security issues.

Check with the provider to make sure they are compliant with your industry’s regulating agency if there is one. Check to see if they have had any issues with information security in the past and what they’re doing to prevent future issues.

  1. Putting Cost Ahead of Service/Support

You get what you pay for, right?

No one wants to overspend, but at the same time, service and support are critical to your success in the Cloud. A cut-rate price can cost you in the long run. When you have a question it’s nice to know you have a partner that will reply quickly.

  1. Overlooking the Value of Your Existing IT Assets

Now that you’re Cloud-bound, there’s a lot of equipment you won’t need. So you’re going to pay someone to haul it away or maybe donate it to a worthy cause. Stop right there!

There’s a huge secondary market for used tech gear, providing you with a great opportunity to re-coup your IT investment. Check out companies who are active in this secondary market, like MarkITx, and see if you can make some deals.

  1. Failure to Test and Train

As with any change, there will be a bit of pushback and struggles to adapt. Create a plan now for transitioning to the cloud. Create new procedures for your staff to follow as they move to using the Cloud for their tasks.

Talk to them about the benefits of the Cloud to the company and encourage them to look for ways to improve their procedures even more. The success and efficiency of the company is their success too.

  1. Not Planning an Exit Strategy

Stuff happens. Sometimes the best plans don’t deliver. If you want to cut loose from your Cloud service, how will you get out of the relationship with your data intact and in a format you can use? Plan for this possibility early on or regret it later.

Final Thoughts

The Cloud has been great for a number of businesses. Small companies are finding savings, efficiencies and dramatically improved reliability by using the Cloud in a variety of ways. If you’re planning on switching to the Cloud hopefully the advice above can help make the transition easier.


Windows Server 2003. The clock is ticking ….

The end of life for Windows Server 2003 is just under 6 months away. IT Managers and Service Providers have indicated that the average migration can take upwards of 200 days.

The time is NOW to plan your migration!

Time

Just as Windows XP reached end of life in April of this year, the end is near for big brother – Windows Server 2003 which will reach end of life status in July 2015. While the installed base of Windows Server 2003 is lower than XP as a total percentage of deployed systems, according to HP there is an estimated 11 million systems still running the 11-year old Operating System.

No move is the worst move

Remaining stagnant and failing to address this significant change could be a costly move. According to a blog post on the Microsoft Partner UK Blog, support from Microsoft after the July, 2015 deadline is estimated to run at a whopping $200,000 per year, a cost that is impossible for any small to mid-sized business to absorb. Delaying the decision to migrate to Windows Server 2012R2 is even worse as it is highly unlikely that Microsoft will extend its support for Windows Server 2003 which will result in further taxing already overworked IT departments.

In addition, organizations or service providers who store sensitive or protected data, are mandated to use supported OS’s. This is required to maintain regulatory compliance such as HIPAA. According to Microsoft, it takes an average of 200 days for a Windows Server migration.

If there has ever been a sense of urgency to get started migrating from Windows Server 2003 it’s now!

Plan your work and work your plan

A migration project of this magnitude requires significant consideration, coordination and detailed planning. Microsoft states that planning a migration of any sort should include four steps:

a) discovering the existing environment

b) assessing the required systems workloads

c) determining where the workloads can be moved to, and finally

d) the migration of the workloads.

Included in the planning, of course, is the requirement for new hardware which brings up a major concern for most businesses – the potentially high purchase cost for capital equipment that supports a new 64 bit OS such as Windows 2012R2.

However, just as operating systems have advanced, so too has hardware technology and business software since the introduction of Windows Server 2003. Today, it is possible to eliminate the need to purchase hardware all together and to offload some or all of these workloads into the cloud. This not only eliminates the requirement to purchase new hardware, it also eliminates the need to purchase the new OS as cloud servers can be provisioned with the OS included in the monthly managed service cost. Moreover, it is possible to do more with less computing resources than before and, migrating to the cloud will deliver unmatched reliability and redundancy.

While the requirement to upgrade your OS may be daunting, it also represents an opportunity and to justify making material improvements to your IT systems without significant cost.

What is your migration plan?

Does the end of Microsoft’s support for Windows Server 2003 affect your business?

Have you completed the upgrade process or are you about to start?

Do you plan to move your workload to the cloud?

Let us know your thoughts!

Jim Stechyson

 


IaaS Offerings Create Opportunities for Professional Services

VARs and MSPs are beginning to understand the shift in technology and spending trends by customers from traditional CAPEX to Cloud. With this, they are transitioning their product offerings and adopting new business models focused around Hosted IT and monthly recurring revenue models.

However, we often hear from our channel partners that they are concerned with the risk of losing the incremental professional services that come with selling traditional hardware based IT solutions. Design, installation, monitoring and hardware upgrade cycles are just a few of these services. This a common misconception amongst the IT channel. The reality is that all of these “value added” services remain when proposing cloud based solutions to customers. The difference however, is the delivery model changes from physical “on premise” to cloud infrastructure but, it gets even better! In addition to the end user benefits that we have discussed in other blog posts, moving your customers IT assets to the cloud makes delivering initial and ongoing professional services far more efficient and lower cost to your organization. Not to mention that service levels will improve dramatically for your clients as there are no wait times for hardware, components or on-site support.

Moreover, with a cloud business practice there are new services that can be created and delivered to your customers that might otherwise be purchased from other sources (read your competition!). This graphic (published by Microsoft), as seen from the eyes of the customer, illustrates very clearly the separation of responsibilities when moving from an “on premise” IT infrastructure to the various cloud business models:

Seperation of Responsibilities

From the customers perspective it’s obvious that adopting the use of Cloud IT in one form or another results in reducing or, removing all together, the burden of IT ownership and benefiting from the associated capital savings.  In addition, transitioning from on premise to Cloud Infrastructure (as a Service) provides various opportunities for VARs and MSPs to add value to the customer by managing the blue boxes while generating ongoing monthly recurring revenue streams from the grey boxes.

Add to this the benefit of selling the entire IaaS offering under your brand means that selling cloud solutions not only maintains your existing professional services but provides the opportunity to leverage your cloud offering to deliver new services and drive additional revenue streams for your business.

What other service opportunities do you see with cloud?

 

Jim Stechyson


To Keep Your Head Above Water – Look to the Cloud

With the dynamics of business today and the ever-pressing need to remain focused on the business goal at hand, fast paced organizations need to streamline repetitive activities and continuously work to build efficiencies into all business practices. One area of business that can benefit substantially from streamlining is IT. Businesses need not drown in IT administrative tasks and the ongoing management of standard IT systems and applications. The goal should be to have your IT primes focused on the delivery of high value solutions.

One of the most effective ways to significantly reduce IT inefficiencies is to move as much infrastructure and its associated management, to the cloud. Leveraging cloud services not only reduces capital and operating costs, it is the best way to remove the burden of managing and operating IT systems away from your IT staff..

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is often cited as one of the prime services that SMB’s look to for driving efficiencies in their IT operations. To help you understand why, here are five reasons why businesses of all sizes, but SMB’s in particular, should look at IaaS services to streamline IT practices:

  1. Direct elimination of capital expenditures: Removing the need to buy hardware helps your bottom line and no one can dispute that. Server purchases tend to be a touchy subject with CFO’s. The day when you’re not running back to your CFO for another server purchase approval is a good day.
  2. Pay-as-you-grow: Adjusting the level of service as your grow, and only when you require it makes sense. This flexibility in service adjustment is referred to as elastic provisioning. For small businesses, where cash is king, this makes even more sense. When your business is just starting to take off, the last place you want your capital tied up is in idle high cost hardware.
  3. On-demand service delivery: Working through a cloud provider, you skip right past all the set up and provisioning time required for the deployment of complex systems. Order it when you want it and you are up and running in minutes. Nothing better then waiting until you really need something before you start paying for it and better yet, paying only for what you use and when you use it – much like your electrical bill…your computing costs become a true “utility billing model”
  4. Budget reallocation: With the money you are saving, given that you have eliminated many of the capital expenditures, you are now able to reallocate the hardware budget to other areas of the business that deliver increased value to customers, staff and ultimately your top and bottom line results..
  5. 24/7 security and uptime: Any issues with the hardware and underlying network infrastructure, any time day or night, are now taken care of by your trusted cloud provider. As a side bar to this, make sure to get a clear indication of your cloud providers security measures and redundant systems through a documented Service Level Agreement (SLA). Reputable providers take security and availability seriously. You deserve that piece of mind from your cloud provider.

The Demarcation of IT between You and Your Cloud Provider

I have included the diagram below to give you a visual illustration of where the demarcation point typically falls between self-managed and cloud-managed responsibilities. This often helps clients understand where their costs are going today and where a trusted cloud partner can step in and offload a majority of the IT encumbrance. The ultimate IT goal for your organization is to be above the water line!

Clipping

The dividing line between cloud services and on-prem services (source: www.hostedbizz.com)

Implementing an operating model that takes advantage of cloud infrastructure in general, and IaaS services in particular, typically results in a customer benefiting from the five points outlined above. In terms of your hard earned dollar, you can expect to see a cost reduction that often stretches beyond 50% of your current IT expenditures.

To make sure you get the most out of your IT staff and manage your cash effectively, I recommend that you talk with a hosted cloud service provider today to better understand your options. There is a reason why so many businesses today are turning to the cloud. If you ask them why I’m pretty certain you’ll learn it’s for the reasons I outlined above.

For those of you who have already moved to an IaaS program, what other savings have you seen?

 Jim Stechyson


Risks to your Corporate Data go far beyond the Patriot Act

Nobody can doubt the value and the power that is afforded to employees with the advent of online file-sharing solutions. Simplifying access, sharing and collaborating of critical information has never been easier creating great leaps in productivity.

The downside … it is now easier for your proprietary information to fall into the wrong hands intentionally or unintentionally.

Adding to the challenge is the increasing demands that employees are placing on IT resources to have mobile access to their data and the ubiquitous need to support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies to allow anywhere, anytime access to corporate data.

With the unrelenting trend of consumer applications appearing in the workplace, it becomes easy for employees to gravitate towards the use of services such as Dropbox. With over 200 million users, Dropbox is the leading vendor for online file-sharing. Dropbox is a great productbut, what works well at home for storing and sharing family pictures, is not the correct solution for your corporate data. Dropbox is easy to install and simple to use however, consumer products can present unmanageable risks in terms of security, legal exposure and, commercial loss within a business environment.

Business owners and IT professionals should consider the following:

Unauthorized loss of data

Dropbox is difficult to monitor across multiple PCs and mobile devices. As a result, business owners and IT staff are not aware of which devices have Dropbox installed and, are not in control of unmonitored devices using Dropbox that are synching critical data with Corporate PCs. As a result, Dropbox can sync, without IT approval, across multiple personal devices. These personal devices, particularly mobile devices, can get lost or stolen, dramatically increasing the chance of your data being shared with the wrong people.

Legal Implications

There are three legal exposures to online file-sharing applications, file deletion and file sharing and being offside of compliance requirements. Giving employees the untethered power to permanently delete files will likely put you off side any legal discovery and disclosure requirements. Similarly, giving employees the ability to share confidential information will almost certainly put your business offside of many confidentiality and privacy commitments that you have made to clients and other third parties.

Compliance

Most companies have digital data protection and retention policies in place. These policies are a key cornerstone in protecting your data. Ensuring that data can only be accessed by approved individuals and, that data retention policies are being complied with is critical to ensure that your business is meeting all of your compliance obligations. File access controls, sharing controls and retention setting are not well defined or are non-existent in consumer products such as Dropbox.

Many companies need to ensure that their data is kept and managed in line with legislative requirements. In Canada, HIPA, Protected B and PIPEDA are examples of how data being stored on a generally available, consumer file-sharing application will be non-compliant.

Accidental Loss of Data

The movement of files across multiple devices and multiple users is not managed well by Dropbox. It is important to realize that copying a file does not necessarily result in a copy having full integrity. The cloud offers great reliability, but files need to be checked for integrity at the time of copying to ensure that all file versions can be retrieved instantly.

File Change History

Consumer file-sharing products do not provide detailed reporting with respect to which users have accessed files, modified them, or copied them onto which machines. This removes any ability to audit processes or assess the risks to your business of data loss.

The Patriot Act

In Canada, there is a growing requirement to ensure that critical data is not stored outside of Sovereign Canada. The vast majority of consumer, cloud storage solutions, such as iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive etc. have their data repositories in the USA or other foreign jurisdiction. This, under certain circumstances, puts your data at the potential risk of third party discovery actions.

What should you do?

Dropbox is a great product, but is woefully inadequate for use within a business or corporate environment if you care about the use, control and access of your data. Unfettered use of a non-corporate controlled file-sharing application will almost certainly lead to data loss, security breaches and non-compliance.

The management of 3rd party applications and stopping employees from installing these types of services, particularly on their own devices is close to impossible. The demand for this type of application from your employees is undeniable and as a result, businesses should offer these services with a corporate orientated product.

HBizzSync is an example of this type of application. The solution allows IT to control user access and permissions, data, monitor activities and ensure that your data is protected while at the same time, giving employees all of the flexibility they need in terms of access and functionality to help them collaborate more effectively.

Call us to show you a demonstration of how we can protect you better.

 

Paul Butcher


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What Our Customers are Saying

Our server environment changes almost daily as we power down, power up and scale compute resources to meet rigorous release criteria and timelines. Optimizing this aspect of our business operations was part of what drove us to evaluate Cloud. The second part is strategic. Once the business is running on the Cloud, ZIM will leverage Cloud to make software tools available to customers as a PaaS. This is the end game.

— Celso Bressan – Manager of R&D - ZIM

The solution from HostedBizz gives us more control over our server infrastructure than we expected. We can flex our computing resources up and down based on the demand that we see from our customers

— Josh Garellek – CEO Arctic Empire

4Té were using a tape backup which was a very cumbersome methodology for all of our critical data. HostedBizz were able to replace this whole process with an automated worry-free backup process into their secure Canadian cloud infrastructure

— Tammy Green - Systems Manager 4Té Inc

Bold Radius is a custom software development, training and consulting firm. Bold Radius needed bullet proof elastic computing. We needed the ability to spin up and tear down servers and to dynamically change server resources on the fly. Hostedbizz delivers this to us and our clients and we can control all of our services through their simple to use portal.

— Mike Kelland - President & CEO, Bold Radius

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