You’re Cloud Based and The Internet Goes Down. Now What?

You’re Cloud Based and The Internet Goes Down. Now What?

It’s one of the greatest fears of managers who are considering moving to the cloud: an office full of employees, customers standing by, and a major crash that prevents access to data.

We’ve all witnessed being without electricity for a few minutes. But when that turns into hours or even days, you quickly realize how dependent we are.

Our data is a little different. We’re aware of what it means to our business. Cloud-based applications are still new enough that we understand the vulnerabilities. If our data is online and it’s down, what would we do?

And it’s not just the Internet. If all of your data is on G Suite and it went AWOL for a day, how would you operate? It’s not as unrealistic as some would assume.

It could be a costly experience. According to one IDC estimate, the average total cost of unplanned application downtime per year is between $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion for Fortune 1000 companies.

Like all other IT issues, the difference between operating successfully on the Internet and experiencing these downtime issues is having a plan in place. The key is not in thinking about what would happen if the unthinkable happens, it’s being prepared for it instead.

Start with a contingency plan

For every application you use in your business, you should have an alternative option. That means if you rely on G Suite for your sales presentation, you should have a backup method for accessing it on-site or on a hard drive.

For some programs, keeping backup copies in different forms is easy to do. It makes sense. But not all applications are that easy. When you’re working with third-party programs, you’re dependent not only on the Internet service, but also on the reliability of the third-party. You are very dependent on the provider and the contingency plan they have in place.

If you think about it before it happens, you can consider different options before the unthinkable happens. Sometimes it might involve finding different connections, or moving to a location where Wi-Fi is in place. You can always have some element in local storage, such as syncing with Dropbox.

Check premium apps for offline sync

Why should you upgrade to premium programs? In many cases, it’s for the feature of being able to access your data anytime. Before you start relying on a free app, consider the premium option carefully. Many of them have offline modes that allow you to keep working with the program no matter if you’re online or not. Once you return to a connection, the program will automatically sync and upload any new content you’ve added since the last update.

G Suite, for instance, has the ability to allow document creation and editing offline with transparent syncing of files when you’re connected. It’s all performed on the fly as you move to various locations. This same offline feature is also built into mobile applications, giving you the same accessibility and user experience no matter if you’re working on a laptop, tablet, or phone.

Provide training to your staff

Because cloud-based applications are still new in the work environment, your employees may not know about cloud-based functionality. Just because they are proficient in Microsoft Word, for instance, doesn’t mean they understand how Google Docs operates. Yes, they have the basic wordprocessing skills down, but they also need to understand the functionality of operating in both offline and online modes.

This is where IT plays a major role. An IT consultant should be able to help you select apps and services that offer the right benefits for your company, and help bring your entire staff up to speed. That means ensuring everyone understands how to operate in every situation, even when access to the Internet is anything but perfect.

What is your contingency plan for when you don’t have Internet access?

Understand Your IT Before You Move To The Cloud

Understand Your IT Before You Move To The Cloud

Using cloud-based applications may not be right for every situation, but most businesses agree that they will continue to move away from on-premises computing in the future. It’s a natural progression.

The cloud can be defined in many ways. Most would include the concept of working in a virtual environment, but it’s much more than that. It’s about increasing your work efficiency. It’s about scalability. It’s about being able to work smarter, faster, and in a better way.

For a successful cloud adaptation, it’s important to understand your IT environment and how it fits into your overall goals. But where do you start?

Start Small – Don’t start with a large program that is used predominantly throughout your business’s work cycle. Instead, start by integrating something small to test the waters. Use less critical applications like a department application before diving in and making changes to your entire company’s structure.

Internal vs External – Before you make a change that will impact what your customers see, select programs that will impact smaller in-house functions first. Employees will be more patient with changes than clients will. It can help you test how well your internal structure performs before implementing on a wider basis.

Licensing and Agreements – What does a cloud-based application cost you as you move from other platforms? What about dedicated models? Will it be fully supported internally or through a third party? How is it serviced? Ensure that cloud-based models work the way you need them to work for how you operate.

Platform – The more sophisticated the system, the more you need to verify it works with the culture of your work environment. Is there a specific operating system version required for your application? Do you need specific devices for operation? Do you have those in place?

Security – Where will your data be hosted? How secure will the information be? How much control will you have over the information you are moving to cloud-based applications? Be sure to validate if the cloud vendor supports any regulations or security issues required for your business.

Moving to the cloud can be a simple process, but it isn’t always an easy process. Make sure you consider all of the repercussions before you make a move.

 

Are you ready to move your IT into the future?

Traveling With Your Laptop and Phone

Traveling With Your Laptop and Phone

We can’t imagine going anywhere without our electronic devices. They’ve become a part of the way we live.

But every once in awhile, we’re reminded of how they can put us at risk.

Just this week, a JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco was diverted to Michigan after a lithium-ion battery caught fire in a passenger’s carry-on bag. The occurrence wasn’t a lone event.

In March 2017, a passenger’s headphones caught fire on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne, blackening and blistering her face.

In October of 2016, a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight was powering down his phone for a flight when it began to smoke.

Small lithium batteries are commonly used in small, portable devices, such as phones, tablets, and laptops, as well as other electronic items such as watches, cameras, and even remote car locks. Lithium is safe, but with millions of products using the technology as a power source, occasionally things happen.

There are two basic types of failures.

The first occurs as a design defect. Something happens in the manufacturing process that puts the technology at risk, and when discovered, the company issues a recall.

The more difficult to detect are the random events like those listed above. These are likely caused by stress events when using a device, like charging at sub-freezing temperatures, a sudden vibration, or just a random fluke incident.

Mild shorts can occur at any time. In most cases, the heat buildup is very low and doesn’t cause a problem. But if enough particles converge in one spot, a sizeable current can begin to flow. And if enough power is kept at this point for an extended period, it heats up and weakens. If enough combustible material is located around it, it can quickly catch fire and escalate to even exploding.

Still, the risk is low. With millions of laptops and smart devices used every single day, reports of problems are rare.

But there is a larger potential problem brewing.

Recently, bans have been enacted that require passengers to begin checking laptops instead of carrying them on board. That means dozens of laptops will potentially make their way underneath the plane, out of sight. That alone will increase the risk of a potential fire getting out of control.

There’s more. It also increases the risk of laptops disappearing altogether from the checked baggage. The risk for fire is still extremely low. The risk for your laptop “disappearing” from your luggage will be at an all-time high.

What would happen if your laptop suddenly disappeared? Do you have sensitive material available to anyone that powers up and clicks on a few items? Do you risk losing months, years worth of work because it’s stored on your hard drive?

Or are you 100 percent cloud-based, with your laptop merely a device to have access to the data?

Just one more reminder that while we rely on our digital devices for just about everything we do, safety and security should always be at the forefront of our minds.

Using Remote Control In Your Practice

Using Remote Control In Your Practice

Imagine a world where you can listen to a patient’s heartbeat or check vitals from 90 miles away. It’s not science fiction; it’s reality.

But it doesn’t happen without technology. And with that comes an entirely new way to practice.

Remote control can supercharge the way you operate your business. It can let you perform actions in many places at once. It can allow you to reach out to your patients, no matter where they are in the world. And as a health care provider, it can become a great tool in both your training and delivery processes.

And while choices may be sparingly at best, that’ll change in the coming months and years as we utilize technology even more.

What should you look for in remote control technology?

Online Collaboration

Delivery isn’t the only side of this technology; you should look for solutions that empower everyone in the audience too. Remoting into a device should give you, your patient, and any other provider or attendee that has a bearing on the meeting a place to be comfortable in the communication process. This will empower you to quickly provide the right service and present solutions that will solve whatever issues you may have.

Compatibility and Integration

Compatibility is a must. That means your remote control solution should support Windows, Apple, Linux, Android and iOs devices. It should work seamlessly with new devices and not-so-new ones too. It only works as well as the parties you can reach.

Easy Connectivity

The system should be easy to login to and easy to access for you and the party you are reaching out to. If it’s more difficult than driving to their location, you’ll never use the technology. Be sure to fully understand capabilities before investing in a solution.

Ability To Control Machines

Being able to see what is happening on a client’s device is nice, but being able to control the device is even better. Especially if you have a not-so-tech-savvy patient on the other end.

Ability To Chat

The more ways to communicate with a technology, the easier it will be to communicate with end users. This means voice, audio and chat features can all help make the process easier. While you can work over the phone or with text our separate chat systems, full integration can make the process smoother, which means a more efficient process for you and your patients.

Ability To Record

There are a number of reasons recording sessions are important. HIPAA compliance, training, or just proof of performance. Recording features should be easy to use and implement, with nothing more than recording at a touch of a button. Also focus in on storage solutions and how big the files will be, all of which can impact your setup for the long term.

Security

It goes without mention that security of the process should be a top priority. If technology is easy to hack into, it puts you and your patients at risk.

How could remote control access change our business?

The Outsourcing Process: What Can It Do For You?

The Outsourcing Process: What Can It Do For You?

Outsourcing receives a lot of press, some good, some bad. But as a business owner, chances are you’ve outsourced some portions of your business right from the start. Have an accountant help you with your books? Yep, that’s outsourcing.

Outsourcing is defined as the contracting out of any task, operation, job, or process that was originally designed to be performed by someone inside the company. For some business owners, outsourcing is the only way to grow. For larger business owners, outsourcing is a way to grow lean and concentrate on their core.

Outsourced functions can easily be performed by a third party either on-site or off-site. It’s not the same as bringing in a temporary employee to fill in while someone is gone. Instead, it’s contracted work that is given over to a third party for an extended period of time.

Why Outsourcing?

There are many reasons a business owner should consider outsourcing a portion of their business.

Cost Savings

One of the biggest reasons is for the cost savings. It costs a lot in time, money, energy, and resources to bring in a new employee. And when you’re increasingly spending your profits on employees, it reduces the amount you can spend on your competitive advantage. Outsourcing allows you to hire the exact skillset you require for the amount of time you need.

Core Business

Especially for small and medium size businesses, it’s important to spend your time working on your core business strategies. Outsourcing gives you the power to put your recourse on areas that provide you with the biggest bang for the buck. It gives management a chance to concentrate on core business issues while hiring other resources to provide you with the best operations for your business.

High Levels Of Expertise

We don’t know what we don’t know. And to educate yourself to competency can take a lot of work. By outsourcing certain areas of your business to other experts in their fields, you can ensure you are getting the best resources and the best services to help drive your business to the next level.

Flexibility

Many businesses have seasonal or cyclical demands. Outsourcing can provide flexibility when you need it most, to help stabilize the varying demands of your business. It can also bring in expertise at times when you need certain skills.

In addition to accounting, the most common outsourced areas include:

  • Information Technology Functions
  • Network and Telecommunications
  • Security
  • Human Resources

Think of outsourcing as a way to help you achieve all you’ve strategized in the most efficient way possible. You get the services and skills you need at the lowest cost to your company as possible.

Have you considered outsourcing for your business?

Securing Open Source In Your Business

The term “open source” has been around for a long time. Chances are you use many open source programs on a daily basis in your business.

More companies are giving away their intellectual property and not only asking people to use it, but they’re also begging them to do so. If technology can be used to make the world a better place, why hide your concepts behind things like patents?

Companies like Google realize that if others use open source software, it can help drive the use of their online services. While open source can push your abilities to new levels, it’s still easy to worry on occasion what all of this is doing to your security. If anyone has access to the coding, what prevents someone from slipping something dangerous into it? Isn’t it an open window that lets anyone “walk in” whenever they choose?

Open source is a sound business decision. And there are a number of compelling reasons that makes it so.

  1. Open Source Gives More Control

Have you ever had a problem with a free online resource and spent days, weeks, or months trying to figure out a problem? There isn’t a phone number to call. Email hangs in limbo “forever.” It can make you think twice about the concept of “free.”

Because open source is open for anyone to use and modify, many of the programs you use seem to have no one in charge of product management. But they are there, just in a different format. As open source apps and libraries are adopted by thousands, new independent support is formed. “Experts” become available to help you out of any tricky situation you find yourself in. Not only can they help you solve current issues, but they can also take the user functionality of the code to an entirely different level.

  1. Open Source Increases Competition

Competition brings on more success by motivating vendors to increase functionality, make things more user-friendly, offer wider capabilities, and further the robustness of a particular program. If something exists, there are always ways to make it better.

Also, with open source, ego often comes into play. The open source community is highly competitive. Developers consistently look to make a name for themselves to further their own careers. By outshining each other, customizing, innovating, and improving existing code, they can showcase their talents to the community.

  1. Open Source Increases Security

What makes open source more competitive is also what makes it more secure. Because unlimited people have access to it, checks and balances exist in every way. Open source means open transparency. Validation occurs throughout the process by having the best minds in the industry ensuring patches are in place and minimizing back doors that make programs vulnerable.

If you select open source that is valued throughout the community and is used on a regular basis in the industry, you can be ensured that the code is high quality. The number of users and developers ensures this is so.

Gone are the days where only the biggest and more lucrative companies have access to the best working platforms. With open source, anyone can compete at any level they choose. Today everyone has access to the best in the business. The only question is, how will they use it.

How are you using open source in your business?

Are You Ready For Internet Disruption?

Are You Ready For Internet Disruption?

A recent Internet Disruption research study revealed that a vast majority of companies had experienced some form of Internet disruption over the past year.

An Internet disruption can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s merely a slight inconvenience; something you deal with until the connection is restored. For others, it can mean the end of business as they know it. It can cripple both what the customer experiences and the productivity of the employees within the company at such extreme levels, business can cease, and reputations can be destroyed beyond repair.

Of course, most Internet disruptions fall somewhere in between.

What is considered “a long time” in today’s world? How long do you wait for a search result before you click on another option? Five seconds? Ten?

The Internet Disruption study found that the average mean time to resolution took an entire business day. And if the issue was outside of the businesses control (which is the majority of such issues,) the mean resolution time took up to 17 percent longer.

Digital resilience means having the capacity to deal effectively with changes and threats that present them in the digital world, with the ability to quickly recover from challenges or difficulties, and even withstand stress and catastrophe. Yet very few companies have a strong digital resilience program in place.

A digital resilience program is designed to give senior management teams the opportunity to set and clarify expectations for how employees will help to identify and protect the most important information assets they own.

What needs securing in your organization? Have you taken the time to clearly define what you are trying to protect? An attacker looks for weaknesses. They look for backdoors that give them ins for creating the most damage possible.

It’s easy to believe security is in place because you have one platform blocked off from the world. But if you haven’t taken the time to prioritize your business risks and establish mechanisms to step up security, you could be at risk. Business process controls, IT controls, and cybersecurity controls all work together, and are no longer an option.

If you focus on one while leaving weaknesses with another, you may find yourself under attack.