Author Archives: Daniel Price

Why Failure To Invest In Online Backup Could Be The Worst Business Decision You Ever Make

Why Failure To Invest In Online Backup Could Be The Worst Business Decision You Ever Make

Failure to Invest In Online Backup Could Be Costly

Success in business is a combination of many things – the right staff, the right budgeting plan, the right company culture – but also the right IT set-up.

Sadly, lots of small-medium businesses (SMBs) overlook the latter. Sure, they’ll invest in the basics, but they fail to look at the bigger picture. With so much of the business world now reliant on IT for all aspects of its operation, this could be fatal.

What is Online Backup?

In simple terms, online backup is the process of making copies of your hard drive’s data on an offsite remote server.

Typically, third-party providers are used, thus removing the need for businesses to invest in their own hardware and infrastructure. Cheap bandwidth and the decreased cost of storage means cloud-based solutions will now allow even the smallest businesses to safely secure their data without fear of loss.

Why are Offsite Backups Important?

The biggest advantage of using online backups is that your data is stored offsite.

When data is backed up onsite, whether on separate servers or on DVDs and other associated media, there is always the chance of a catastrophic loss. That could be theft, fire, or countless other causes.

Often, the backup provider will have multiple server locations, thus creating several copies of your data. That way, even if one of their locations experiences issues, your data is still safe.

Finally, your data is also encrypted, adding significant extra security against theft and cybercriminals.

storage

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Sadly, too many IT Directors in SMBs have the “it won’t happen to us” mentality. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s take a look:

Physical Damage

We typically think of fire, flooding, and other force majeures when we consider physical damage. Of course, these are all risks that need to be fully considered, no matter how rare or unlikely.

It is arguably more important, however, to consider the risks of accidents around the office. Incidents like coffee being thrown over a laptop’s keyboard, computers knocked off desks by clumsy cleaners, and laptop bags dropped down flights of stairs all can and do happen.

The result? Data loss, monetary loss, and potentially even livelihood loss.

Hard Drive Crashes

How old is the equipment in the average office? Most experts agree that the maximum lifespan for any computer is only five years, but given the costs, time, and potential issues involved, most companies will delay upgrades for as long as possible.

hard-drive

Questions around legacy software and staff training need to be considered when upgrading – but the biggest risks of not upgrading are hard drive crashes.

Recent research suggests only 80 percent of traditional disc-based hard drives (HDDs) will see their fourth birthday, while the newer solid state drives have a limited number of reads and writes.

Recovering data from a “dead” hard drive is a non-exact science and is not guaranteed to work, so if your office is running old computers without backups, now is the time to start getting very worried.

Theft

There are two sources of theft to worry about. Of course, there are the typical smash-and-grab raids that are all too common in big cities and unsecured premises, but you also need to consider opportunistic theft.

digital-theft

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

It can occur when a person leaves their laptop unattended in a café or accidentally leaves it on public transport. This is more common than in might seem – for example, in 2008 an employee of the UK government inadvertently left a laptop containing the latest top-secret terror intelligence on al-Qaeda on a train.

If it can happen to the government, it can happen to your SMB!

Viruses and Malware

Viruses and malware are a big part of the ever-growing cybercrime problem.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated the annual cost of cybercrime to be more than $445 billion in 2014, while U.S. President Barack Obama put the figure closer to $1 trillion in a 2009 speech.

Whatever the figure, pretending that your SMB’s data cannot be reached is naive.

For example, ransomware programs like CryptoLocker can encrypt files stored on local drives using an RSA public key, with the private key kept on the malware’s control servers. The victim is given a payment deadline, and if money is not received in time, the private key is deleted. Experts agree that, although the virus itself can be easily removed, the file encryption is almost impossible to break.

Don’t be held to ransom by only having one copy of your business-critical data.

Employees

A company’s staff provides IT Directors with two main headaches. Firstly, incompetence, and secondly, deliberate actions. Both are almost impossible to plan for without backups.

employees-digital

 

Incompetence and error can see vital files deleted in a flash. No doubt we’ve all accidently deleted the wrong file at some point in our lives – now imagine deleting several months of work without realizing. Without backups it will unquestionably cost your SMB both customers and cash.

Rogue employees are just as bad. Indeed, a poll at the Infosecurity Europe Conference in 2014 found that 37 percent of companies thought the biggest threat to information security was rogue employees; higher than cyber-attacks (19 percent) and “bring your own device” (15 percent).

The Solution? IDrive…

In short, the solution to all these threats is frequent online backup, and one of the best companies to choose for managing your backups is IDrive.

They provide SMBs with “secure data protection for all of [its] business computers, servers, Exchange, SQL, NAS and mobile devices,” and offer a whole host of standout features, as well as extremely competitive price plans.

For example, their features include multiple device backup, a local storage facility to compliment the cloud backup and thus allowing for faster restoring of data, 256-bit AES data encryption, real-time backups, incremental and compressed backups to ease bandwidth strain, online file synchronization, and social media backups.

They have three plans – the free plan includes 5 GB of space and 5 GB of sync space, the “Personal Plan” provides 1 TB to 10 TB of space and costs $44 – $372 per year, and the “Business Plan” provides 250 GB to 12.5 TB of space and costs $74 – $2249 per year.

What’s Stopping You?

What’s preventing you from investing in an online backup solution right now? Can you afford not to have a plan in place? Let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.

This post is brought to you by IDrive Inc.

By Daniel Price

Understanding The Importance Of A Flexible Hybrid Cloud Solution

Understanding The Importance Of A Flexible Hybrid Cloud Solution

Flexible Hybrid Cloud Solution

The cloud computing revolution continues to gather pace, and more and more businesses are coming on-board.

For example, late last year a study by IDG found that 69 percent of enterprises have either applications or infrastructure running in the cloud, an increase of 12 percent since 2012. The same report found that 24 percent of IT budgets were now dedicated to cloud services, while in the summer Forbes stated that by 2020 they expected 78 percent of small & midsize businesses (SMBs) in the United States to have fully adopted cloud computing.

Given the number of businesses and the amount of money involved, a flexible hybrid cloud solution is vital.

What is a Flexible Cloud Solution?

A “flexible cloud” can mean many things and can apply to several different facets of the concept of cloud computing. At its core, it simply means a company’s cloud set-up can be altered and tweaked in line with its requirements.

cloud-build-scale

The largest sub-section of cloud computing that it refers to, therefore, is scalability. Cloud computing allows a business to easily upscale or downscale their IT requirements as circumstances change. It could mean taking on bandwidth when a new client is won, or downgrading when times are difficult.

It also refers to utilising a ‘hybrid cloud’. A hybrid cloud refers to when a private cloud set-up (whereby control of a system and its data has to stay with a company’s internal IT department) is mixed with a public cloud set-up (whereby companies can take advantage of almost unlimited scalability). This hybrid system can provide businesses with more choices for personalised solutions (such as determining where applications should be deployed) whilst both saving them money and providing additional security.

There are also considerations such as providing flexibility to employees; it enables them to access business-critical information and applications from anywhere in the world, which in turn will increase efficiency and improve collaboration. This is increasingly important with the growth of “Bring-Your-Own-Device” (BYOD) policies.

byod

Why is a Hybrid Solution Important?

There are lots of reasons why a hybrid set-up is vital for modern businesses.

One of the biggest benefits is cost. For example, auto-scaling can reduce costs by removing the need to run instances based on projected usage (and consequently having to leave excess resources in place as a buffer). Instead, it allows companies to only run resources that are matched to actual usage on a moment-to-moment basis.

Hybrid clouds offer the greatest savings of all. Research suggests that businesses will spend $1.7 billion to run an application in the public cloud compared with just $1.1 billion when running the same application in a hybrid cloud environment.

The flexibility of a hybrid cloud also has security benefits; organisations can use it to move non-sensitive functions to their public space to reduce the demands on their own internal private cloud. Indeed, the rapid explosion in the number of companies using the cloud is because more and more of them are starting to understand that off-premises clouds and on-premises data centres are no longer an either/or proposition.

Finally, it offers IT team efficiency benefits. Public and private grades of cloud can be managed by a team of outsourced professionals, thus leaving the IT department more time to handle other issues and to ensure all the other business-critical systems are running smoothly.

It’s for all these reasons that CIOs and IT Directors recently ranked “operational agility” as a top driver for cloud adoption in a recent Gartner report.

How Microsoft Azure fulfils your Organisation’s Needs

Currently, more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 use the Azure service, and Microsoft are continually striving to offer the sector’s most complete cloud; one that’s suitable for every business and every industry.

microsoft-azure

Azure entices customers by offering an array of services that are too good to ignore. For example, there is an ever-expanding roster of Azure Active Directory features which now include features such as web-app publication and administration delegation.

Furthermore, they develop their own hyper-scale data-centres and deliver the same technology back to its customers’ and partners’ datacentres. By delivering these IaaS and PaaS services, companies can easily mix their enterprise applications such as SQL Server, SharePoint, and Exchange with modern distributed applications and services, all whilst retaining an all-important oversight.

They also offer the Microsoft Operations Management Suite, which aims to simplify and streamline how a company manages its data assets. It covers any instance, on any cloud (including Azure, AWS, Windows Server, Linux, VMware, and OpenStack). It is cheaper than its competitors and includes log analytics, security monitoring, and operation automation.

No Negatives

To conclude, there are no perceivable drawbacks to moving your business’ IT operations on a hybrid cloud set-up and making use of the Microsoft Azure offering. It’ll save the organisation money and time, whilst improving security and efficiency – all key aspects of running a business.

The Azure product fits any business of any size – contact them for more details about what they can do for your company.

This post is brought to you by Microsoft Azure and Cloud for Tomorrow.

By Dan Price

Help Your Business Improve Security By Choosing The Right Cloud Provider

Help Your Business Improve Security By Choosing The Right Cloud Provider

Choosing The Right Cloud Provider

Security issues have always been a key aspect of business planning; failure to properly protect your assets, your inventory, and your customer data is guaranteed to set a company on a road to ruin.

In the pre-digital age security was reasonably easy to manage, but the introduction of computers and the onset of cloud-computing has quickly expanded the number of weak points in an organisation’s set up, not to mention provided a new opportunity to a different group of would-be criminals.

Make no mistake – cloud computing brings a huge number of benefits to any organisation, but it would be remiss to suggest that it doesn’t also bring challenges. Properly securing your company’s vital data is one such challenge.

That’s why it’s so important to choose a reputable and dependable cloud provider. While lesser-known providers may appeal on cost, a closer look may reveal serious flaws in other areas of their offering such as support, service level agreements, or security.

The Risks of Poor Cloud Security

It seems increasingly rare that a week goes by without news of a data-breach or security hack hitting the headlines – in the last eighteen months alone we’ve seen internationally-recognised companies such as JP Morgan, Ebay, Home Depot, and Target all fall victim, along with countless lesser-known companies and small or midsize businesses (SMBs).

security-cloud

The risks of a security breach are huge. Firstly, there are significant monetary costs associated with disaster recovery, data loss, crisis management, and implementation of new defences. For example, in America most states require firms to notify their entire client database if a breach is suspected, with the costs of doing so estimated at approximately $30 per client.

Secondly, there are opportunity costs with regard to lost intellectual property and loss of customer confidence. This loss can have a knock-on effect across all facets of a company, from shareholder value and corporate stability to business reputation and financial performance.

Alternatively, perhaps a company could find itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit from damages to customers, or there could be an e-business interruption arising from either a security failure or an internet virus.

Who is at Risk?

If you’re an IT professional or Business Development Manager in an SMB, it’s easy to read an article such as this and assume that it will never happen to you or your organisation. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

All companies are at risk, no matter their size or their location. For example, recent research suggests that half of all companies that suffer data breaches have fewer than 1,000 employees, while the perpetrator of the attack is equally likely to be one of your most trusted employees or sitting at a computer on the other side of the world.

The solution is using a reliable and secure cloud vendor.

Why Choose Microsoft Azure?

Why should you and your company choose Microsoft Azure over similar offerings from Amazon and Google? It’s an important question to consider, but the answer quickly becomes apparent once you delve into the respective services’ features.

shutterstock_303468863

Firstly, there is the issue of familiarity. Windows is comfortably the most-used operating system in the world, and for those users Azure will be quick to learn and understand. It naturally has excellent integration with existing on-premise systems such as Windows Server, System Center and Active Directory, and therefore Azure will be faster and simpler to implement.

Secondly, there is Microsoft’s commitment to a hybrid cloud strategy. Amazon (and to an extent, Google) have typically been somewhat dismissive towards the benefits of on-premise private clouds – and this is short-sighted. For example, lots of businesses need (and want) to keep sensitive data within their own data centres, and will utilise public clouds for other reasons. The ability for Azure to offer this benefit along with a consolidated platform for managing hybrid cloud components makes it the best choice.

What makes Azure so Secure?

Microsoft has always adopted a policy of responsibility when it comes to their Azure offering. In a recent blog post, they explained they had “three foundational pillars of the Azure security infrastructure” – to protect infrastructure, to detect fraud, and to respond to incidents.

Indeed, Azure is designed from the ground up with security in mind. For example, they have a “Secure Development Lifecycle” that seeks to embed security policies into every phase of the software design process. Part of this process is their “Assume Breach” strategy, whereby a product is designed under the assumption that a breach has already occurred, and they have a dedicated team of experts who simulate attacks, thus testing the products ability to detect and protect.

azure-secure

(Image Source:Shutterstock)

Beyond that, they have an “Operational Security Assurance” offering, which works to increase the infrastructure’s resilience by decreasing the amount of time needed to prevent, detect, and respond to security threats.

Once a product is live, Microsoft offers a global incident response team that is constantly working to negate the effects of any cyber-attack. The team is split in two parts – engineering (who investigate and resolve the issue), and communications (who draft information and guidance for affected customers).

Azure also makes use of the latest technology in the area of encryption and key management. It uses industry-standard protocols for data being sent between user devices and data centres, and includes an option for businesses to encrypt traffic between virtual machines and end users. For data that’s merely being stored, AES-256 encryption is used.

Lastly, their network security will use firewalls, partitioned local area networks, and physical separation to prevent unauthorised traffic being sent to and within their data centres.

Next Steps

If you know your business could benefit from making the jump to the cloud, but are concerned that security could be an issue, you can stop worrying. The simple advice is to make sure you choose an experienced provider that invests heavily in their own back-end security and that is transparent with their customers about what steps they take to maintain client safety.

With this in mind, there is no better choice for your organisation than Microsoft Azure – contact them for more details about what they can offer.

This post is brought to you by Microsoft Azure and Cloud for Tomorrow.

By Dan Price

Solving The Identity Management Conundrum With Sensible Cloud Solutions

Solving The Identity Management Conundrum With Sensible Cloud Solutions

Solving The Identity Management Conundrum

Businesses of all sizes are increasingly moving their IT operations into the cloud. Their reasons for doing so are diverse and varied, but typically fall into broad categories; modernisation, streamlining workflows, easier access to business-critical applications, cut costs on data centres, and so on.

While there is no denying that the amount of benefits that the cloud can bring to a business are vast, there are still some important considerations to make when making the leap.

One of those considerations is how to effectively manage identities.

The Old Problems with Identity Management

The challenge of identity management was never fully solved in the pre-cloud era, a strange anomaly given that identity and access management (IAM) has been at the heart of corporate IT security for two decades.

Management

With companies now entirely reliant on computers for all aspects of doing business, IAM is also one of the broadest issues in IT security. Whether an employee needs to access internal applications, an outsourcing company requires limited control over hardware functionality, or consumers want to interact with their online accounts, they are all dependent on secure and reliable IAM.

Managing all the access points and accounts could be a time-consuming exercise, especially if the systems have been badly implemented. Even if they have been correctly implemented, issues such as orphan accounts, poorly mapped essential data, non-existent monitoring of privileges, and wrongly assigned super-user accesses could all combine to soak up precious resources and ultimately result in costly clean-up exercises.

The Arrival of Off-Site Services

Before the explosion of off-site services, IT staff were responsible for manually performing administrative tasks in order to give the employee the correct accesses. Such an approach made meeting regulatory guidelines, sufficiently managing security controls, and creating company-wide consistency difficult to achieve – all of which only served to exacerbate the problems listed above.

As discussed, IAM now underpins almost every facet of the business world – and thus requires far more management than simply adding and removing various accesses. The system in place needs to reflect a company’s business goals and unique challenges, and thus allow it to adapt almost instantly to any new requirements that arise. Beyond that, it needs to be simple, user-friendly, and secure.

If the situation was difficult to manage before, the uptake of cloud services, the growth of the Internet of Things, and the addition of external constituents could make the problem worse. Indeed, with Gartner now predicting that by 2020 “60 percent of all digital identities interacting with enterprises will come from external identity providers through a competitive marketplace, up from less than 10 percent today”, it is vital that systems are put in place now to help manage the impending change.

Thankfully, the cloud can help by offering hybrid solutions between on-premise resources and cloud-based resources.

The Importance of Cloud-Based Solutions

The long-held ideal of effectively organising identity management in cloud computing whilst maintaining control over internally provisioned applications and resources is now becoming a reality.

data breach

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

At the core of the solution is security. With data breaches and data theft seemingly never away from the headlines, organisations are increasingly required to prove that they have strong IAM controls in place both for internal resources and for resources accessed remotely. To achieve this, the ability to tie off-premise user identities to back-end directories is vital, and systems should be used that can provide cloud-based bridges to those directories.

Some facts serve to underline this point even more forcefully; according to SC Magazine, privileged users cost US businesses $348 billion per year in corporate losses, Group ID claim 19 percent of employees change job responsibilities each year (with 5 percent of users in an average company’s Active Directory being no longer employed by the organisation), and Gartner are predicting that IAM will remain as one of the top three most sought-after cloud services.

How Microsoft Azure Active Directory Can Help

The capabilities of Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AD) address many of the issues raised. Most importantly, Azure AD can provide access control to cloud-based applications, including third party ones, but the benefits extend far beyond that.

For example, it offers tools that allow IT professionals to scan the applications in use and isolate those which have the biggest effect on data confidentiality, compliance, and auditing, it helps to identify and address cloud-based security threats, and it can provide single sign-on to the most popular SaaS applications.

It also helps to negate inefficiencies in the user lifecycle, thus becoming the perfect solution for newer SMEs that were created in the age of cloud use. It does this by including support for self-service and dynamic rule-based groups, role-based and rule-based provisioning, managing both on-premise and private cloud directories, and regular recertification of user privileges.

In the age of global business, it is also important to have a way to let partners and other vendors access your applications. Azure AD assists in this business-to-business collaboration without the need for proxy users, instead making use of email-verified and social identities.

The Future

As the necessity for greater engagement between businesses and their customers grows, and as newer social and mobile technologies continue to come online, effective IAM is more important than ever.

The Future

Businesses now have to take a consumer-led approach for granting and controlling access to their resources, especially to those which are based in the cloud. Without that approach, they risk being exposed and left behind on a number of fronts.

Systems such as Microsoft Azure AD are the perfect way for SMEs to better manage their existing users and extend their services over time, making sure they don’t miss the exciting opportunities that will arise over the next five years and beyond. Contact them for more details.

This post is brought to you by Cloud for Tomorrow.

By Dan Price

Surprising Facts and Stats About Your Online Security

Surprising Facts and Stats About Your Online Security

Surprising Facts and Stats – Online Security

It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when browsing the web. As more and more devices join the internet of things, the risk of becoming a victim of a criminal cyber gang is increasing – we have more unsecured access points and offer would-be thieves more routes into our home networks.

It is with this is mind that a new infographic has been released by Heimdal Security as part of a wider investigative piece into protecting yourself against online threats.

We take a look at some of the key findings:

Vulnerabilities:

Heimdal claim that 99 percent of computers are vulnerable to attacks because they use out of date versions of either Oracle Java, Adobe Reader, or Adobe Flash that can be used by hackers to launch their assaults. These figures reinforce the point we made in our exclusive newsletter last week, when we featured a report by Menlo Security that found that one in five sites are running software with known vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals.

Cost:

The most expensive computer virus of all time was 2004’s MyDoom. According to Heimdal, it caused $38.5 billion USD of damage to those affected before being discovered in late January. At its peak, it was suspected that the virus infected 1 in every 41 email messages – 25 percent of the worldwide email traffic at that time. It initially spread through widely used file-sharing program Kazaa and installed itself into the Windows system folder as Taskmon.exe and Shimgapi.dll.

Away from individual viruses, it is reported that a massive 68 percent of funds stolen in cyber-attacks were ultimately unrecoverable. That’s helped bump up the estimated annual cost of global cyber-crime to more than $100 billion USD, and it’s starting to pose a very real threat to the economy.

Government:

You’d think it is your government’s job to protect and support its citizens. That philosophy doesn’t seem to have translated very well into the online world, however. Heimdal claim that “government malware accelerates the evolution of criminal malware” as they obsess themselves with ‘back door entry’. Hackers then ‘reverse engineer’ governments’ tactics and technical approaches to make their own malware more robust and advanced.

Social Media:

Social media has now become a hacker’s paradise. Accounts hold a wealth of data and information that in some cases can be enough for a hacker to completely steal your life. It is claimed that 600,000 Facebook accounts are now hacked every single day – that’s 219 million per year. One in ten users of social media now say they’ve been a victim of a cyber-attack, and that number is growing as additional services and third party providers come online.

Worrying or scaremongering?

What do you think of the report and the infographic? Is it truly worrying or more industry scaremongering? Perhaps you have been a victim of cyber-crime? We’d love to hear from you, let us know your comments in the space below.

InfoGraphic_final-compressor

 

By Daniel Price

The History Of 3D Printing – From Kidneys To Cars

The History Of 3D Printing – From Kidneys To Cars

The History Of 3D Printing

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, has been one of the break-out technologies of the last 18 months. People are now clamouring to get involved with the technology, with printable objects ranging from hand-guns to medical equipment. Yet, despite its recent popular emergence and contrary to popular belief, 3D printing has been existence for more than 35 years, with the inception of the concept traced back to 1976 and the first example of it coming in the early 1980s.

(Tedtalk – What is next for 3d printing?)

Here we take a brief look at its history:

1981/2

The first published account of a printed solid model was made by Hideo Kodama from the Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute in either 1981 or 1982 (accounts vary). His paper theorised about the potential behind a rapid prototyping system that used photopolymers to build a solid, ‘printed’ object that was built up in layers, each of which would correspond to a cross-sectional slice in a model.

1984

Charles Hull, who at the time worked for 3D Systems Corporation, invented stereolithography – a process which lets designers create 3D models using digital data which can then be used to create a tangible object. Hull went on to publish a number of patents on the concept of 3D printing, many of which are used in today’s processes.

1992

3D Systems Corporation built the first stereolithographic apparatus (SLA) machine. It used a UV laser to solidify photopolymers, thus making 3D objects layer-by-layer. Although the machince faced difficulties, it was the first time it was proved that complex objects could be ‘printed’ overnight.

1999

The stroke of the new millennium saw a world first as the first 3D printed organ was transplanted into a human. Created by scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a human bladder was printed, covered in the recipient’s own cells, and then implanted. It was a scientific breakthrough; because the device used the patient’s own cells, there was no chance the implant would be rejected.

2005

3D printing collided with the open source movement for the first time in the middle of the decade. The idea was championed by Dr Adrian Bowyer at the University of Bath in England. His idea was to create a printer than could print itself – thus making units and parts cheaper, more accessible, and easier to distribute.

2008

After the success of the bladder in 1999, then of the first printed kidney in 2002, 2008 was the year that saw the first 3D printed prosthetic limb. It incorporated all parts of a biological limb, was printed ‘as is’, without the need for any latter assembly.

2011

The world’s first 3D printed car was launched by Kor Ecologic at the TEDxWinnipeg conference. Designed to be ‘green’, the prototype could reportedly do 200 mpg and would retail for between $10,000 and $50,000, depending on the model.

Today

The costs of 3D printers are falling phenomenally. While they cost around $20,000 just three years ago, there are now machines being developed that will be sold for under $500, thus making the technology increasingly available to the average consumer and laying the foundations for a potential explosion in the home inventor and home DIY markets. It’s not hard to imagine a future where a trip to the dentist will see him print you a new tooth, if you have a crash in your car you can just print a new chassis, or all furniture will simply be downloaded and printed at home.

Included is an infographic by engineering.com which illustrates the brief history of this growing industry

3d-printing history

What do you think the future holds for the 3D printing industry? Let us know in the comments below.

By Dan Price

The Importance Of Having A Flexible Monitoring Tool

The Importance Of Having A Flexible Monitoring Tool

The Importance Of Having A Flexible Monitoring Tool

(Post Sponsored By Site 24×7)

The world is increasingly moving towards a web-based economy. Regardless of what industry you are in, it is almost impossible to be competitive and to maintain a brand presence without a strong online offering. It means that your company’s website is increasingly becoming the first interaction that users, clients, and customers will have with your business. As the old saying goes, first impressions are everything – so it’s vital that your IT Team (specifically DevOps and Operations teams) have all the necessary tools at their disposal to make sure everything is working as it should, looks great, and is live.

With this is mind, it is important to use the most flexible and all-encompassing tools available. Why split performance monitoring, web app monitoring, server monitoring, and app performance monitoring between different providers and different tools when there are offerings in the market that can provide an all-in-one solutions? If it’s possible to monitor both your internal network and your public/private cloud infrastructure with the same software, would that not be beneficial, cheaper, and more streamlined?

One of the better tools available at the moment is Site24x7’s SaaS product. Widely recognised as the most flexible monitoring tool for IT and DevOps, they’ve featured heavily in the media and have been subject of coverage for Gartner, 451 Research, EMA, and Virtualisation Practice, amongst others. Indeed, Gartner placed them in their ‘Magic Quadrant’ for Application Performance Monitoring and they were Network World’s ‘Product of the Week’.

But what makes Site24x7 so flexible? As one of their clients said, “Site24x7 is outstanding in the way it provides a swiss-army knife of various network monitoring tools at an affordable price” (Sridhar P, Director of Engineering, Sastra Technologies).

Let’s look at a number of their free tools:

System Admin:

    • Website monitoring: Site 24×7 offer global website availability testing, with more than 50 locations around the world.
    • Traceroute Generator: Helps you troubleshoot problems and alerts you if something breaks
  • Server and Application Monitoring: Instant notifications and track performance of physical hosts

Validation Tools:

  • Server Header: Check headers and verify HTTP status codes
  • HTML Validator: Find errors using W3C standards

Content Tools:

  • Speed Report: Find out if you webpage’s loading time is optimised
  • Link Explorer: Explore links in a certain URL

Developer Tools:

  • JSON Formatter: A formatter and validator to help create coherent JSON data
  • XML Formatter: To make use your XML data is formatted correctly

They also offer SLA tools, on-premise and mobile network pollers, and end user experience monitoring, but you can check out their website for a full list of free tools.

  • Website Performance Monitoring
  • Web Application Monitoring
  • Web Page Analyzer
  • Service Monitoring
  • Real User Monitoring (RUM)
  • Application Performance Monitoring (APM)
  • Cloud Monitoring
  • VMWare Monitoring
  • Server Monitoring (Windows & Linux)
  • Internet Network Monitoring (On-Premise Poller)
    Exchange Server Monitoring
  • DNS Server Monitoring
  • SSL Certificate Monitoring
  • FTP RTT Monitoring
  • Mail Server Monitoring
  • Mobile Application Performance Monitoring (Mobile APM)

site24-7-infographic_001

The company offers five price plans for an incredibly affordable amount. Their basic plan – perfect for bloggers and freelancers – starts at $4.50 per month. Their two full-feature plans, which offer you the full power of all the software’s features, start at $35 per month. The lesser of the two is great for small IT teams and MSPs, while the more expensive plans ($89 and $449 per month) are aimed at SMEs and large-scale businesses.

If you’ve got any questions about their products, or you want to discuss signing up for a free 30-day trial, you can contact them via a web-form or at sales@site24x7.com.

By Dan Price

Surprising Facts and Stats About The Big Data Industry

Surprising Facts and Stats About The Big Data Industry

Facts and Stats About The Big Data Industry

If you start talking about big data to someone who is not in the industry, they immediately conjure up images of giant warehouses full of servers, staff poring over page after page of numbers and statistics, and some big brother-esque official sat in a huge government building watching us all.

The truth is somewhat different. Big data is rapidly becoming one of the driving forces behind the global economy and is underpinning economic development in poorer countries. That’s something exciting, and like anything exciting, it means there’s a vast number of facts and untold nuggets of information that could surprise even big data’s most ardent followers.

The infographic in this article highlights some of those facts. We’ve listed some of the most interesting below:

Q. How much data is produced every day?

A. The amount of data is growing exponentially. Today, our best estimates suggest that at least 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is produced every day (that’s 2.5 followed by a staggering 18 zeros!). As the infographic points out, that’s everything from data collected by the Curiosity Rover on Mars, to your Facebook photos from your latest vacation.

Q. Which is the largest ‘big data’ company in the world?

A. Unsurprisingly, the answer to this question is Google. Perhaps more surprisingly are some of the figures behind the company… For example, did you know Google processes 3.5 billion requests per day? Or that Google stores 10 exabytes of data (10 billion gigabytes!)? Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon all give Google a run for their money; Facebook alone has 2.5 billion pieces of content, 2.7 billion ‘likes’ and 300 million photos – all of which adds up to more than 500 terabytes of data.

Q. Which company has the most servers?

A. Given the answer to the last question, you’d be forgiven for thinking the answer to this question was Google. Actually, the answer is Amazon. They host their estimate 1,000,000,000 gigabytes of data across more than 1,400,000 servers. Google and Microsoft are both presumed to have about 1,000,000 servers, but neither will release exact figures.

Q. What percentage of data is in digital format?

A. Picture every book in every library, school, home, and company in the entire world – it’s a lot of books. Yet all those books combined make up a maximum of 6 percent of the sum total of all human data. In 2007 it was estimated that a mammoth 94 percent of all data was stored in a digital format. Furthermore, a phenomenal 90 percent of all data ever produced by humans has been made in the last two years.

Q. What does the future hold?

A. Looking forward, experts now predict that 40 zettabytes of data will be in existence by 2020. Three years ago, the entire World Wide Web is estimated to contain approximately 500 exabytes – which is 5 billion gigabytes, but only half of one zettabyte! 40 zettabytes is, therefore, 400 billion gigabytes!

This terrific infographic courtesy of Adeptia outlines some of these Big Data surprising facts.

bigdata-facts

Do you have any facts?

Do you have any sensational big data facts to share? Which of the facts on the infographic do you find most surprising? Do you think the predictions about the future are accurate? Let us know in the comments below…

By Dan Price

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