Category Archives: Popular

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

DDoS Attacks

October 21st, 2016 went into the annals of Internet history for the large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that made popular Internet properties like Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify and Box inaccessible to many users in the US.

The DDoS attack happened in three waves targeting DNS service provider Dyn, resulting in a total of about three hours of service outage. The attack was orchestrated using a botnet of connected devices including a large number of webcams sold by a single manufacturer, which simultaneously made tens of millions of DNS requests on Dyn’s servers. Given the impact and severity, Dyn was quick to release a statement that more fully explained the incident from their side.

DDoS attacks can be carried out in many ways and can either target individual properties, or services that support a multiple Internet properties. DNS services are common targets because they are essential to the operation of cloud-based services.

Cyber Attacks are Getting Increasingly Sophisticated

comic-dating-gameThere’s a growing trend of increasingly sophisticated DDoS attacks targeting governments, political organizations, financial institutions and businesses in general. Victims of high-profile breaches in recent years include Target, eBay, Home Depot, JPMorgan Chase, LinkedIn, FDIC and Ashley Madison, but these are only a few notable names.

Even as government and private organizations embrace cloud-based services, attacks such as the one on 10/21 should compel them to reevaluate “all in on the cloud” approaches to platforms, applications and data. While I am not advocating completely pulling back from the cloud and into on-premises systems, this is a situation that pleads for a diversified risk mitigation strategy.

Organizations need to have solutions in place that will not interrupt operations and kill productivity during situations like this. As we have always advocated, a hybrid solution can certainly mitigate risk and give organizations alternative ways to work in the event of attacks or outages.

The Polarity Problem

A major problem for many organizations is their polar philosophies around infrastructure, the thinking that everything has to be in one place or another – either in the cloud or on-premises. Here’s where hybrid approaches come into their own. What if your application ran on the public cloud, but failed over to an on-premises or private cloud instance in the event of a public-cloud outage? What if your content (data) could reside in the cloud, on-premises or in both places simultaneously, depending how business critical, voluminous or regulated it is?

Consider the Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) solution space. Cloud-only providers like Box and Dropbox – that emerged as consumer services and subsequently moved into the business segment – arguably don’t account for the mission-critical use cases of governments and businesses, and their need for business continuity in the event of such outages.

Consider how your organization will be impacted if all its corporate information resided in the cloud, and a DDoS attack or other form of cyber attack (or even a natural calamity) brought the cloud infrastructure down for several hours. How will it affect employee productivity? What would the revenue impact be? How would your brand image be affected?

For most organizations, the impact of a cloud outage will be very significant. As such, exploring hybrid approaches becomes mission critical.

Hybrid is the Answer

MJM, a marketing and communications agency owned by WPP, initially used a cloud-only EFSS service for file sharing and collaboration but moved over to Egnyte a few years ago after realizing that what it really needed was a hybrid file sharing solution. Thankfully they did, as disaster struck in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy, devastated the Northeast Coastline in the United States. With no internet and power going in and out, the employees at MJM were still able to work through the disaster and not lose any time or money.

DDoS Attacks

When it comes to the enterprise, we have a steadfast philosophy that:

1) Enterprises need purpose-built solutions. From our inception, we’ve had a razor-sharp focus on serving the file sharing needs of organizations rather than consumers.

2) While we enthusiastically embraced the cloud, we’ve always been aware that our customers need safeguards. Our hybrid approach to file sharing allows customers to leverage the advantages of both cloud and on-premises infrastructures for agility, reliability and business continuity.

If your cloud provider suffers an outage, a hybrid solution can seamlessly failover to your on-premises infrastructure and ensure that users, business processes and workflows remain unaffected. What’s more, these solutions can seamlessly failover to your on-premises infrastructure and ensure that users, business processes and workflows remain unaffected.

It is best to assume that Internet outages are inevitable, and plan for continued access to essential files when your cloud infrastructure or Internet connectivity become unavailable. When the next outage occurs, will you be prepared?

kris lahiriBy Kris Lahiri, VP Operations and Chief Security Officer

Kris is a co-founder of Egnyte. He is responsible for Egnyte’s security and compliance, as well as the core infrastructure, including storage and data center operations. Prior to Egnyte, Kris spent many years in the design and deployment of large-scale infrastructures for Fortune 100 customers of Valdero and KPMG Consulting.

Kris has a B.Tech in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras, and an MS from the University of Cincinnati.

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement

Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be a big part of our future in both business and personal spheres. The current and future possibilities of global access to files and data, remote working opportunities, improved storage structures, and greater solution distribution have the pundits encouraging the cloud move for one and all; on the other hand, complete reliance on electronic networks and external service providers comes with its own set of dangers, along with a sometimes insufficient understanding of the products and tools implemented.

The Increasing Demand for Cloud Computing

The last ten years have seen a marked increase in demand for and implementation of cloud computing. Thanks in part to smartphones, real-time streaming, connected devices, and always-on social media needs, this flexible, off-site, and highly scalable technology has become indispensable. Gartner estimates that we’ll see the public cloud services market reach $204 billion in 2016, an annual growth of 16.5%, and the highest growth is set to come from cloud system infrastructure services. Says Sid Nag, research director at Gartner, “The market for public cloud services is continuing to demonstrate high rates of growth across all markets and Gartner expects this to continue through 2017. This strong growth continues to reflect a shift away from legacy IT services to cloud-based services, due to increased trend of organizations pursuing a digital business strategy.

The Good

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Availability

Cloud services mean solutions and resources once only accessible by the elite or giants are now open to all. With options such as pay per use and global reach, organizations of all shape and size can tailor packages to suit both their needs and their budgets.

Reduced Costs of Infrastructure

In the three top cloud computing categories, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, organizations typically don’t need to lay down their own infrastructure or spend money on hardware. Cloud service providers provide the IT teams, connections, software and storage facilities, reducing a business’s Capex costs.

Improved Disaster Recovery

Thanks to the distribution of data across multiple failover points, disaster recovery is a prime benefit of cloud computing. Implementing cloud-based disaster recovery means it’s possible to switch over to mobile systems when necessary and resume the use of local systems thereafter.

Collaboration & Flexibility

Providing advanced solutions for team collaboration, cloud computing allows numerous users to work simultaneously on the same projects and files with real-time updates and no restrictions that bind them to specific sites.

The Bad

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Opex Costs

Although cloud computing certainly reduces Capex costs, it naturally increases operational costs adding a monthly burden for the services used. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of outsourcing or keeping infrastructure in-house to suit each business and its budget.

Security

A concern in all things IT, cloud computing is no different. It’s important for organizations to identify which data they’re comfortable storing on the cloud, and which perhaps should be off-network. It should be noted, however, that most reputable cloud service providers offer security superior to that which the average business is able to implement. Security doesn’t have to be considered a negative of cloud computing, as long as organizations take the time to ensure the tools they’re using are compliant with regulations and standards, and confirm their service providers are implementing the necessary security features.

Always-On Connection

Cloud computing, of course, requires an always-on internet connection, good bandwidth, and suitable speeds – only a negative when you haven’t got it.

Limited Control

Although cloud computing provides much flexibility and choice, it’s important to remember that the infrastructure is owned by someone else and so organizations are limited to the services they pay for and the solutions a service provider is willing to provide.

Overall, the drawbacks of cloud computing tend not to cause too much disruption and are easily outweighed by the benefits. It’s important to understand the risks and disadvantages, but the constantly evolving cloud computing environment is rapidly stamping out weaknesses and replacing them with constructive innovations.

By Jennifer Klostermann

What You Need To Know About Choosing A Cloud Service Provider

What You Need To Know About Choosing A Cloud Service Provider

Selecting The Right Cloud Services Provider

How to find the right partner for cloud adoption on an enterprise scale

The cloud is capable of delivering many benefits, enabling greater collaboration, business agility, and speed to market. Cloud adoption in the enterprise has been growing fast. Worldwide spending on public cloud services will grow at a 19.4% compound annual growth rate to go from $70 billion in 2015 to $141 billion in 2019, according to IDC.

Over the past several years, the software industry has been shifting to a cloud-first (SaaS) development and deployment model. By 2018, most software vendors will have fully shifted to a SaaS/PaaS code base,” said Frank Gens, a chief analyst at IDC.

But the boosts in efficiency and your bottom line that cloud adoption brings are not a foregone conclusion. In order to realize those benefits, it’s vital to find a reliable cloud services provider or integrator. The right partner can provide a platform that enables digital transformation and fosters innovation. As you begin your search, here are some key concepts that should be at the forefront of your mind.

Build trust and security

Security may not be the barrier to cloud adoption that it once was. Almost 65% of IT and security professionals surveyed by Skyhigh Networks agreed the cloud is either as secure or more secure than on-premises software. However, the firm also found that the average organization experiences 19.6 cloud-related security incidents every month. Attitudes may be shifting, but security concerns still loom large for many companies.

It’s important to find a cloud services provider that you can really trust. Seek a partner with proven security expertise, a solid platform for data sovereignty, and an impeccable track record. Ensure that they understand security is an ongoing battle, and have a continually evolving long-term release plan in place to address potential security issues.

Don’t sacrifice flexibility

One of the main advantages of the cloud is the fast scalability and business agility it can provide, so it’s important not to get walled in. Hybrid capability is important, and you want to be able to transition quickly and easily when you see a potential advantage.

The services you adopt should allow you to leverage the public cloud and integrate partner services. You want something that supports the usage of any public cloud, allowing for new service adoption down the line, but also leveraging essentials likeMicrosoft Azure. Consider how to handle peak demand and cater for customer preferences. It’s all about achieving the right balance to enable your business to grow and innovate.

Standardization is good

For the sake of clarity and cost, standardized services are desirable. Consider the compatibility, safety, interoperability, repeatability, and quality that standardization can provide. A platform like Office 365 will deliver a consistent experience for all of your customers and employees, regardless of the platform or the device they’re using.

Pick and choose the right blend of standardized software and open source technologies to create bundles that deliver the features you need without sacrificing the flexibility that enables you to stay competitive. Customized solutions are expensive, inflexible, and they lock you in to your partner’s roadmap.

Global coverage and stability

You need to be able to deploy, manage and upgrade your software and applications easily. Look for reliability and a strong history of release stability to minimize disruption. You also want a partner with a good balance between compute workload and location. International coverage can boost performance significantly by delivering compute where the users actually are. A single, centralized location is a major bottleneck.

Set business objectives

Performance reports, resource monitoring and service level agreements are all important, but you need to set tangible business goals at the outset and put metrics in place to test the effectiveness of your cloud services. You should have a deep understanding of the business advantages you’re expecting to achieve, and so should your partner. Look beyond the technical statistics and ask what they can do for your business.

A cloud services aggregator can take advantage of economies of scale to deliver services far more cheaply than you can ever manage internally, but finding the right partner is about more than cost. They need to be trustworthy, security-conscious, reliable and globally distributed. You need to retain the flexibility to adopt the emerging technologies that can drive innovation and creativity in your business.

By Nicholas Lee

Lavabit, Edward Snowden and the Legal Battle For Privacy

Lavabit, Edward Snowden and the Legal Battle For Privacy

The Legal Battle For Privacy

In early June 2013, Edward Snowden made headlines around the world when he leaked information about the National Security Agency (NSA) collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans.

It was a dramatic story. Snowden flew to Hong Kong and then Russia to avoid deportation to the US, where the government had charged him with violations of the Espionage Act. Journalists boarded a flight from Moscow to Havana on the speculation Snowden would be onboard. Some called him a hero; others branded him a traitor and a villain.

Meanwhile, on June 28, 2013, FBI agents showed up at the door of Ladar Levison. Levison owned an email service called Lavabit, and the agents had a pen register order requiring him to hand over the metadata for the email activity of a particular customer’s account. However, Levison argued that to do this, he’d have to reprogram the entire encryption system that protected his users’ privacy.

The court sealed the case, so the first the public heard of it was when Levison ended his email service, stating on Lavabit’s website: “I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul-searching, I have decided to suspend operations.”

The full text of his statement is still available on the Lavabit site.

Only recently did the court lift Levison’s gag order, at which point he could confirm what everyone had guessed: the FBI had been after Edward Snowden’s communications made through Lavabit.

Every American email service provider has a clause in its privacy and non-disclosure policies that indicates it may disclose information as necessary to comply with law. Some promise they will inform customers if or when authorities request that information.

Yet, as in the case of Lavabit and Snowden, a gag order often accompanies the request, making it illegal to tell the customer the government has requested access to the data. In these cases, the law wins, and the contract with the customer loses.

data-economy

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

So, what do you do when presented with an FBI warrant for private data, which you believe to be unethical and even unconstitutional?

Email Providers Face a Serious Dilemma

There are two options:

1. You can fight these orders in court. However, smaller email service providers do not have the money on hand to fund an expensive legal battle and to pay “contempt of court” fees for non-compliance during the case. This lack of resources puts these companies at a serious disadvantage in their ability to push back. They have to give in.

2. You can give in and follow the letter of the request, but in a way that’s inconvenient for law enforcement. This buys time and can limit the scope of what the officers or agents can access. However, depending on the actions taken, it can also seriously hinder the email provider’s business.

For Lavabit, when law enforcement wanted Levinson to hand over an encryption key that would have not only exposed Snowden but also his other customers, he decided to close shop. He did not have the resources to fight the government in court and could not guarantee the privacy and security of his users’ email.

The Privacy Predicament

It is egregious that the government’s requests in pursuit of Snowden were so broad as to impinge on the privacy of 410,000 other unrelated users of Lavabit’s service. This is blatantly unconstitutional. It would be as if the police received a warrant to wiretap one person’s phone line and then listened to all calls in the city that included that phone line. Though it may not be technically possible to narrow the scope down to the communications of a specific individual, this does not give the government the right to infringe on the privacy of everyone who happens to have a phone.

This affair with Lavabit and Snowden preceded the recent iPhone decryption issue, when the FBI tried to force Apple to put in a backdoor in iOS software, post facto, so it could decrypt an iPhone belonging to Syed Farook, responsible for the San Bernardino shootings in December 2015.

DataLock-cloudtweaks-comic-small

Apple pushed back in legal proceedings. The FBI dropped the case when it found a third-party to unlock the iPhone.

Although that legal battle ended, another fight has begun. The government wants cellphone providers to build in legitimate “second front doors” to encrypted devices, so that it can access on demand with a court order.

This will jeopardize the privacy of average American citizens without making it significantly easier to catch the bad guys, who will inevitably get their unbreakable encryption elsewhere. Hundreds of companies outside the US offer secure encryption technology. These companies make it easy for people to get encryption outside the reach of American law.

If the fight for second front doors wasn’t enough, discouraging developments have worked their way through the courts, too. In June, a federal district court in Virginia ruled the federal government does not need a warrant to hack into an individual’s computer. Given the Fourth Amendment bars unlawful searches and seizures, it’s unlikely this ruling will hold up in appeal. Nonetheless, it speaks volumes for how the courts and governments view privacy and security.

The Fight Continues

It’s likely that many more court battles lie ahead as organizations and individuals go head-to-head with the government to argue their right to privacy.

Enter the Lavabit Legal Defense Foundation (known as LavaLegal for short). Lavabit’s founder Ladar Levison launched the nonprofit to help service providers avoid complying with unconstitutional requests, such backdoors and handing over encryption keys. The nonprofit will operate on donations.

If LavaLegal receives enough funding, it can help small companies continue operating as usual while pushing back on perceived unconstitutional requests, until the courts can make decisions in their cases. For small businesses, this could be a lifeline that lets them continue operating while paying hefty legal fees.

By Erik Kangas

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

ERP Deployment

You know how ERP deployment can improve processes within your supply chain, and the things to keep in mind when implementing an ERP system. But do you know if cloud-based or on-premise ERP deployment is better for your company or industry?

While cloud computing is becoming more and more popular, it is worth taking a moment to assess both options to determine what is best for you.

There are a lot of considerations when it comes to ERP deployment. Need for flexibility, security requirements, cost, and even accounting practices can influence which avenue you choose.

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when deciding how to deploy your ERP system.

Cloud Implementation Strategies

The Cost of the Cloud

It is true that ERP in the cloud is more cost-effective to implement in the short-term. It eliminates the need to procure and maintain servers. Additionally, your cloud ERP provider will have its own team of IT technicians to ensure your system is running smoothly and your data is safe, which can save you time and money in labor costs.

ERP Deployment

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

But it also requires ongoing subscription costs, which can entail high annual costs and hidden fees. Be sure to calculate the true cost of the cloud solution you’re interested in before you sign off on it.

Accounting for the Cloud

Similarly, your company’s attitude towards capital investments versus expenses can have a big impact on whether cloud implementation is right for your company. CFOs who want to minimize capital expenditures will be more amenable to cloud deployment than will CFOs who prefer to make a capital investment in servers, which can be depreciated over time.

It is a good idea to ask your CFO for their perspective before committing too strongly to one method or the other, as the balance sheet may have more of an impact on your decision than you realize.

How Much Control Do You Need?

In one way, cloud ERP software is very flexible and easy to deploy, because it only requires the click of a button rather than physically installing software on physical servers.

Components of Enterprise Resource Planning

But this flexibility comes at the cost of customizability. Because cloud solutions are shared with other companies, there is less ability to customize the software to your specific needs. Consider how much control you need over the specifics of your ERP system, and see if cloud solutions are able to accommodate those needs. Or, find a cloud-based ERP provider that does allow you the freedom to customize your solution.

Accessibility and Security

One of the great things about cloud storage is that there is no limit to the amount of data you can store. Another great feature is that your staff can access it anywhere. As long as they have a phone or computer, they have access to real-time data.

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While people can at times be concerned about the security of their data when it’s in the cloud, companies providing cloud-based ERP have highly-secure networks and procedures to guarantee the security of your data. And remember, no way of storing data is foolproof; there are risks to keeping your data on your own servers, as well.

For even more on cloud-based ERP systems, check out this blog post.

On-Premises Implementation

Negotiate a Contract That Will Work in the Long-Term

If you decide to go with on-premise implementation, be sure your hardware contract reflects the current environment, where technology and data needs rapidly escalate. It doesn’t make sense to buy a huge machine or server on a long lease, because by the end of the lease, it’s almost certain to be outdated and too slow for your company’s needs. Negotiate a contract that will be nimble and reflect the current IT state.

Think About Your Size

Large companies often err on the side of over-investing in hardware to meet their IT needs, while small and midsize companies often underestimate their IT needs and accordingly under-invest in the hardware they need.

Take a long hard look at your needs. Is it reasonable to run business reporting on the same server that handles ERP transactions, or will that set you up for performance issues?

Think about not only your ERP demands now, but also what they may be in the future. When investing in your own hardware, you need to leave room to be able to scale up in the future.

By Aaron Continelli

The Rise Of BI Data And How To Use It Effectively

The Rise Of BI Data And How To Use It Effectively

The Rise of BI Data

Every few years, a new concept or technological development is introduced that drastically improves the business world as a whole.

In 1983, the first commercially handheld mobile phone debuted and provided workers with an unprecedented amount of availability, leading to more productivity and profits.

More recently, the Cloud has taken availability far beyond the simple act of voice-to-voice communication, allowing businesses to untether employees from their desks and give them virtually unlimited access to the software and storage space they need to do their jobs.

The use of business intelligence (BI) tools to turn raw data into useful information is the latest trend to sweep the business world. According to a recent survey, since 2012, 71% of businesses have started using BI data to address business needs.

This sudden popularity of BI data raises a few questions. Why are businesses so interested in BI? How can they use data analytics tools effectively? How do businesses across different industries use BI data?

Explaining the Rise of BI

There are three driving forces behind the recent uptick in BI data usage.

  1. The Buzzword Factor

The need to “keep up with the Joneses” is not exclusive to suburbanites buying bigger TVs and newer cars just because their neighbors are doing so. Business executives also feel pressure to keep up with their competitors.

There’s so much chatter about BI data. There’s a lot of pressure on corporate managers to be involved or at least have an answer when their senior management asks, ‘Where are we with that?’”

— John Keenan, Founder and CEO, Anthem Marketing Solutions

Even though business technology trends sometimes fall flat, lagging behind on the next big thing could mean missing out on a revenue generating opportunity.

  1. Businesses Are Beginning to See the Value of BI

The buzzword factor is important, but there’s much more to the rise of BI data. Businesses are beginning to recognize the array of benefits this type of data offers. In fact, 86% of data analytics users say BI data is important to their company.

BI Data

(Image Source: Clutch.co)

BI data takes the guesswork out of making business decisions. It provides an unprecedented level of insight into how the average customer thinks and behaves.

  1. Self-Service Analytics Tools Are More Accessible

Even though the benefits of BI data were apparent before wide-scale adoption in 2012, the tools needed to analyze the data were often costly, especially for smaller businesses. For example, advanced analytics solutions, require extensive training to operate effectively. But, with more self-service analytics tools entering the market, it has become more affordable for businesses to organize and make sense of the data they collect.

As self-service functionality has evolved, the adoption rates for BI tools have been much higher. The reason is that IT has been stretched beyond belief. Demand has gone up for IT services, but budgets have gone down… There aren’t enough resources.

— Carl Paluszkiewicz, Director of Customer Value, Denologix

How to Use BI Tools Effectively

Anyone can collect information, but not every business understands how to organize, analyze, and apply the data effectively. It is necessary to implement a clear strategy before investing in BI tools. For example, an advanced analytics tool is not a good fit for a small business seeking to visualize its performance metrics better.

I got an RFP the other day from a customer doing basic data analysis on their desktop. They thought it would be good to implement a Hadoop Cluster. While they need a better system to manage their data, they don’t need to go from a very basic environment to a Big Data tool. It’s overkill.”

— Laura Squier, Director of Advanced Analytics and Business Development, QueBIT

How Businesses Across Industries Use BI Data

How are companies using their BI data to improve their business?

Case Study 1: BI Data in the Restaurant Industry

A restaurant chain uses promotions to attract and retain customers, and the restaurant wants to know whether using promotions is a successful strategy for increasing their revenue. They look at customer data, such as how much they spend in the restaurant and on what items. But, they do not know how their promotions influence food choice and spending. Analyzing internal data reveals gaps in their promotion strategy. They do not promote specific products on the menu or menu categories. They do not adjust menu options for different regions.

John Keenan of Anthem Marketing Solutions, gives some examples of other data points to consider:

  • How much should you focus on photos and descriptions of menu items?
  • Does changing the photos and descriptions affect sales?
  • Does altering the menu to match tastes in different locations attract more customers?

Case Study 2: BI Data in the Automotive Retail Marketing

A store that sells car parts uses BI data for demand planning and forecasting. This involves identifying which types of vehicles are most popular in each region. A store that sells car parts uses BI data for demand planning and forecasting. This involves identifying which types of vehicles are most popular in each region. Then, the retailer can select the parts to stock based on which cars local customers drive.

Organizations can get tremendous value from having the right product in stock at the right time.

— Laura Squier, QueBIT

The Big Picture

We are drowning in data. There is more written content in a single issue of the New York Times than the average person from the 1800s would have read in a lifetime.  And, every two days we create as much information as we did in all of human history up to 2003, according to Alphabet, Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

As analytics tools’ capabilities continue to advance, businesses will be able to apply the data they collect in new ways, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity.

By Sarah Patrick

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the acceleration of business activities, processes, and operational models to fully embrace the changes and opportunities of digital technologies. The concept is not new; we’ve been talking about it in one way or another for decades: paperless office, BYOD, user experience, consumerization of IT – all of these were stepping stones along the path to digital transformation.

Today, digital business transformation is driven by technology innovation and user/customer behavior. Technology innovation leads to disruption. But transformation is also about how these technological innovations are adopted and used, and how they improve upon a process, to help the user get work done.

The IT organizations and line-of-business managers charged with making digital decisions must ask:

  • Do these innovations bring value to the organization?
  • Are these innovations easily adopted, or is the organization struggling to implement change?
  • Are we factoring in regulatory compliance, security, and business partner demands?

Digital transformation is not just the domain of the “big guys” anymore. Smaller organizations are often more nimble and can realize huge efficiencies by digitizing processes that have historically been a drag on productivity. Organizations of all sizes and operational budgets are looking at digital transformation strategies as a way to improve a process, and ultimately, better serve their customers.

Going digital to break boundaries: Three Rivers Legal

Three Rivers Legal Services of South Florida is a great example of a small organization that made huge improvements though going digital. Three Rivers is a nonprofit law firm dedicated to delivering quality legal assistance to the poor, abused, disabled and neglected, offering empowerment through preventive legal education.

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A large segment of the clients they serve are homeless. As you might imagine, keeping track of paper documents when you have no permanent place to store them is almost impossible. While living on the streets and in shelters, the clients of Three Rivers experience theft, weather damage and incidental losses to vital paperwork. These are documents they need to receive medical care, veterans’ benefits, public assistance, or to apply for jobs – essentially, everything that helps them build a path to independent living.

Digital Documents

The firm was storing legal documents and other files belonging to homeless clients on an internal case management system, but it couldn’t be accessed beyond the boundaries of the office. For legal aides in the field working with people at libraries, parks, shelters and government offices, this was a frustration point that slowed down productivity. And because of the situation many of their clients were in, mailing copies of documents to people with no permanent address wasn’t feasible. The firm realized that they needed a reliable, secure and easy way to access these important documents – and digital was the way to go.

Initially, the firm considered storing client documents through consumer file sync and share tools, but became concerned about the security and privacy issues. Today, the firm uses an enterprise-grade, secure collaboration platform where they can quickly and easily store digital versions of sensitive client documents. The legal team and their clients can access these documents from a smartphone, tablet, or from a computer at a local library.

Transforming lives

By going digital, Three Rivers’ clients have a portable but secure solution they can use to share documents with medical professionals, government entities and others. With online access to digital medical records and patient history, the legal aides at Three Rivers can work in real time with the psychiatrists who are serving their clients, collaborating to make better-informed diagnoses and prescribe medications that help clients stabilize to the point where they can get jobs and housing. Collaboration also decreases the chance of psychiatrists prescribing medications that produce bad reactions in their patients that could result in loss of housing or jobs.

files-health

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

This change in process has freed the organization to deliver better quality service, on a faster timetable, to people who really need it. Since making the change, the legal team at Three Rivers has seen the waiting time for their clients go from up to two years to less than one month – all because the clients have secure, anytime access to digital versions of their documents. So far, 25 percent of the firm’s homeless clients have moved out of shelters and off the streets into stable living situations – and once they’ve completed the digitization of the rest of their client documents, they expect this number to increase.

Digital transformation is a challenge – and businesses must ask the right questions and make the right decisions about which technologies they’ll implement, and which processes must change. But as this use case illustrates, even a small firm can make incremental changes that yield significant improvements.

By Daren Glenister

15 Cloud Data Performance Monitoring Companies

15 Cloud Data Performance Monitoring Companies

Cloud Data Performance Monitoring Companies

(Updated: Originally Published Feb 9th, 2015) We have decided to put together a small list of some of our favorite cloud performance monitoring services. In this day and age it is extremely important to stay on top of critical issues as they arise. These services will accompany you in monitoring your data and safeguarding critical applications and websites in real-time. This list is in no particular order of preference. When selecting a new service, please do your own due diligence during the selection process.

CopperEgg

copperegg

Copperegg has been in business since 2010 and has made a good name for themselves securing clients such as: Juniper Networks, REAL Networks and SEGA. Some of their features include the ability to monitor server CPU Processes, receive real-time alerts as well as collect, analyze, and alert on any metric.

DataDog

datadog

DataDog is a startup based out of New York which has recently secured $31 Million in series C funding. They are quickly making a name for themselves and have a truly impressive client list with the likes of: Adobe, Salesforce, HP, Facebook and many others.

Keynote

KeynoteSystems

Keynote has been around since 1995 and have an impressive client list with the likes of: Akamai, AT&T, BBC, IBM, SAP and many others… Keynote solutions test from the user perspective, delivering high-volume traffic on demand and accurately modeling interaction, arrival patterns, and geographic diversity.

Kaseya

Kaseya-Traverse

Kaseya Traverse has been in business since 2000 and is a cloud and service level management platform, with proactive monitoring and powerful root-cause analytics for all aspects of the IT environment – applications, databases, network infrastructure, cloud services, servers, data center equipment and VoIP. They have several case studies with a large client list including: Staples, University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech.

Soasta

soasta

Soasta was founded in 2006. They provide seamless integration of test design, monitoring, and reporting of high quality Web applications and services. Their client list includes: Hallmark, Microsoft and Nordstom among many others.

UptimeSoftware

uptime-software

Up.time began in 2002 and provides deep server monitors that monitor the performance of critical applications, databases, Web servers, network devices, and critical system-level services. You can choose from any of up.time’s built-in server monitors, application monitors and quickly define your own custom probes. Their impressive client list includes: Cisco, NASA, Sony, Ford and many other high profile brands.

Solar Winds

SolarWinds
SolarWinds has been in business since 1999. There services can monitor all the infrastructure in your datacenter using WMI, SNMP, CIM, JMX & VMware® API protocols. Their client list includes a high number of Governmental agencies most notably: NSA, U.S Army, Department of Homeland Security and many others.

Monitis

Monitis

Monitis has been in business since 2006 and their client list includes the likes of: AVIS, Survey Monkey, Stanford University and the University of Cambridge. They offer a Universal Cloud Monitoring Framework, Monitis can sync to other Cloud computing providers such as Rackspace, GoGrid, Softlayer, and many more. Their Universal Cloud Monitoring Framework will automate monitoring in highly dynamic cloud environments.

Opsview

opsview

Opsview has been in business since 2002. Opsview provides advanced auto-discovery and integrated GUI with quick straightforward configuration. Some of their clientele includes: Active Networks, Cornell University and MIT. 

Apica

Apica

Apica was formed in 2005. Apica offers companies and developers, cloud-based load testing and web performance monitoring tools to test applications for maximum capacity, daily performance, improved load times, and protection from peak loads. Analyze online performance and pinpoint bottlenecks quickly and effectively.  Their partners include: Rackspace, Rightscale, AWS and many others.

LoadStorm

LoadStorm

Loadstorm has been in business offering SaaS products since 1999. Their Load testing service allows web developers to know how their applications respond under heavy volumes of HTTP traffic. LoadStorm puts massive cloud resources in the hands of web developers to enable them to improve the performance of their web applications. Create your own test plans, and generate up to 50,000 concurrent users in realistic scenarios.

CloudHarmony

CloudHarmony

CloudHarmony are relatively new in comparison to their counterparts. They formed in 2009 and have been developing some very useful tools. You may use their extensive and continuously updated benchmarks to view and compare performance metrics from various cloud providers and services. One of our favorite areas is the useful Cloud Square provider directory.

Amazon CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch
Part of the highly cost efficient Amazon Web Services (AWS) group, CloudWatch is a fairly basic, though very dynamic, tool that collects, monitors and tracks customizable data metrics. The Dashboards are interactive, allowing you to manually change categorizations and matrices through a very accessible API.

Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud
Oracle Cloud utilizes a complex interchange of software to provide insights on actual, and applicable, data flow. It is a tool that is flexible and can provide massive insight with any set of data. Oracle offers “experts in every industry” and is truly well rounded, reaching 110 million households and extracting data from 1,500 partners.

SevOne

SevOne
SevOne boasts ‘user friendliness’ with the ability to view metric, flow, and log data, all in a single dashboard. With alliances like Cisco and Dell, SevOne is far reaching, utilizing Networks, 4GLte, and the “Hybrid Cloud” to standardize cloud infrastructure and alleviate visibility gap risk. In 2013, SevOne received a $150 million investment from Bain Capital, and in both 2015 and 2016, received various awards for business promise and software success.

By Glenn Blake

CloudTweaks Comics
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