When the Cloud Goes Dark…

The demand for cloud computing is an undeniable, unavoidable trend in business IT. Business managers are hearing all about the benefits of the extensible, flexible and scalable features that the cloud offers. This puts pressure on the IT team to pull together some sort of cloud solution for the organization. However, without a clear set of benchmarks, a defined scope and a thorough assessment of needs and resources, building a cloud quickly turns into a stormy nightmare.

Chuck Hollis of EMC recounts the story of what he saw at a large financial institution in a recent post on his blog. The IT team called him in as an EMC rep to gather more information on EMC products, as they were interested in possibly using them for their pieced-together cloud environment. But when Chuck began asking questions about the project and how it was going, he realized that the situation had some problems.

After offering some advice that the team start measuring its solution against vendor offerings on the market, Hollis closes with this takeaway:

The bottom line? Had they chosen a different path, they would have been using their cloud in production for several months. They’d be moving on to the next challenge. Or, they could look at what VCE had done, and make an informed case to do better themselves.

Instead, it looked like all they had was a pile of assembled components, and nothing really useful to show other than some interesting experiences and some more stuff to put on their resume.

Sure, there are cases I’ve seen where —yes — it could make sense to invest in a big team and a big project to create a hand-crafted cloud. But that’s the rare exception, and only after a sober analysis of the costs and benefits of doing so.

The first few times I saw this, it was unusual. But it seems to be happening more.

And I think that’s not too good for anyone.

Read Hollis’ full post on how a cloud computing solution can go wrong on Chuck’s Blog.

Stay One Step Ahead of IT Security Threats

IT security is in many ways, a living, breathing thing. New threats are generated daily and as solutions and patches are created, malware proprietors are hard at work creating newer, more aggressive malware to infiltrate enterprise IT networks and wreak havoc.

That’s why every business’ approach to IT security has to be one that is consistently looking ahead and scoping out the landscape. In other words, IT security isn’t a one-time fix, so every company needs to be in it for the long haul.

Cisco’s Small Business blog has some helpful advice for businesses that are worth reading up on.

They list three approaches to staying on top of IT security threats:

Taking the DIY approach

If you have the resources and the inclination, you can squarely hit the moving target of security vulnerabilities on your own. First, start by subscribing to the security advisories that each vendor provides free of charge for their networking gear, computers, and software. Many companies publish an advisory for any issue impacting an individual product, so it’s possible you’ll receive a glut of alerts that don’t pertain to your network. So, make sure you know which products are installed on your network and just focus on the relevant advisories.

Signing up for a service

If you want some help with security updates but don’t want to invest a lot of money, you can subscribe to a service that provides an application that can help you find and automate software updates on your computers. Two popular free services are CNET TechTracker and Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI). These applications compare the software on a computer against a continuously refreshed database of vendors’ software updates and patches. The service then generates a report from which you can download the necessary software updates. Using your favorite engine, similar “vulnerability management” services are available for your network infrastructure.

Bringing in outside help

Keeping up with the latest security threats can be a full-time job. Sometimes the best way to stay current on vulnerabilities is to enlist the help of an expert, such as a local Cisco reseller who specializes in security. A partner can inventory your network devices and systems, monitor for security holes and other issues and install the appropriate patches or updates as needed.

Read more about keeping up with IT security on the Cisco Small Business blog.  Continue reading…

Contribution By BizTech Magazine

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