The Cloud Provides Storage Solutions for Cold Data

CloudThe cloud is gaining momentum as a storage solution for companies realizing the limitations involved with flash memory. In fact, a survey of IT directors by TechTarget indicates that 48 percent of companies plan to integrate cloud storage as a priority for 2017.

The cloud provides higher capacity storage at a lower cost, but there are other benefits, too. It gives a company flexibility and agility and is scalable for growing businesses. IT professionals appreciate the ability to keep security and updates off-site and focus on infrastructure and technology management.

Cloud solutions are great for start-ups or small- to mid-size businesses that may have limited IT resources or that aren’t sure about their growth trajectory in the near future. Here are some things you need to know before using cloud storage:

Storage for cold data: One of the great uses for cloud storage platforms is managing cold data. This refers to items that you don’t need to access on a regular basis, but are required to store for taxes, regulatory requirements, or to meet company standards. Cloud storage is a great way to keep these records in a low-cost platform.

Surprises on the bill: While you’ll appreciate the cost savings associated with cloud storage, be aware of how different items in that storage affect your costs. For instance, if you’re storing images or video that require a lot of bandwidth, don’t be surprised if doing so has a negative impact on your bill.

New gatekeepers in development: There’s promising technology being developed that may offer a type of gatekeeper for cold data being stored on the cloud. This function would monitor the movement of data, determining which items need a higher level of performance and which can be moved to a slower-moving, lower-powered area.

Experts estimate that 90 percent of data accessed on the cloud is less than one year old, leaving a wealth of data available for long-term, low performance storage. As companies increasingly gather cold data, it’s going to become more important to find low-cost ways to store it, and the cloud appears to be the most viable solution.

As the cloud develops, complementary technologies are expected to develop as well, providing ways for automation to keep costs under control while managing increasing amounts of data.

When it’s time to make a decision about cloud storage, don’t simply hire another vendor that will provide a cloud solution. Choose Focal Solutions. We don’t just deliver a service. Instead, we consider ourselves to be part of your team, invested in your growth and dedicated to helping you choose the best options for your company in all areas of telecom deployment.


Tailoring Security Technologies to Meet Business Needs

SecurityTechnological advancements have impacted business operations in a positive way. However, managing the security required to maintain compliance and protection isn’t as easy as deploying new applications that allow organizations to increase productivity. In fact, developing risk management plans that accurately and efficiently mitigate threats involves a lot of work. So called “black box” network solutions that claim to meet every need will never replace a specific, tailored design.

Therefore, to ensure that organizations meet changing compliance standards, develop adequate preventative measures, and choose the best investments, they must first assess their real and specific needs, and then incorporate the technologies that will suit.   

Identifying Essential Requirements

The first step in discovering the right security technology for any company is to identify the areas that must be secured.

  • What is the value of the data collected, used, and maintained? Companies must accurately determine the value of the data used in order to ascertain the type of protections to introduce.
  • Where is the data stored and how is it accessed? These considerations also outline which procedures, policies, and tools will be required for efficient protection.
  • What are the current regulations, risks, and penalties associated with non-compliance? Understanding which regulations apply to the data used by the company provides key indicators on how to mitigate threats and limit the impact of an attack.  

Assessing Security Posture

Before investing capital in technology, organizations need to honestly assess their current security posture. Glossing over weaknesses or overrating strengths will result in a failure to protect the company in the event of an attack. For example:

  • Are polices for personnel enforced throughout the hierarchy, or are there ways to bypass them for ease of use?
  • Are physical barriers adequate in-house?
  • Are mobility practices equally protected and secured?

Taking an honest assessment of current strengths and weaknesses is vital to the success of any security strategy or risk management plan.      

Increasing Employee Awareness

Accurately tailoring protection to an organization’s needs means making sure that employees understand the reasons for each tool and policy, and have the opportunity to become actively involved. For any plan to work, companies must have feedback from users. For instance, is one tool causing issues with productivity? Are employees experiencing a positive or negative impact from the controls in place? This type of response from users helps identify weaknesses and helps pinpoint any additional lack.

Although tailoring risk management and strategies based on specific needs takes time and effort, the result produces a cost-effective solution that ensures proper compliance and protection. Staying one step ahead of attackers requires continual evolution.

Information Management: Data Infrastructure Explained

Data InfrastructureMany companies experience communication issues that contribute to measurable losses in the form of mistakes. As a business grows, so does the need for a workable data infrastructure that supports productivity. Innovation in technology has altered the traditional business dynamic, changing the way information is processed, and the result is that a large number of companies are suffering from a poorly designed infrastructure. However, by understanding the elements involved in data infrastructure development, businesses have the ability to increase efficiency and lower operating costs.

Defining Data Infrastructure

Data infrastructure is generally defined as the digital means utilized for the consumption and sharing of information. It can be likened to the physical infrastructure of a state. Large cities employ complex traffic controls and intricate roadways, while smaller towns typically rely on simpler designs and still employ dirt roads in certain areas. The same is true for businesses. Larger companies require formal processes for controlling vital information, while smaller companies are more relaxed. Depending on the organization’s size and mission critical tasks, levels of data infrastructure designs include:

  • Tribal—A small company that relies on word-of-mouth communications. Questions are answered by speaking to the person most likely to know.
  • Enforced—An organization that employs the rudiments of controlled processes. Written procedures and data repositories make information available to a larger number of persons. Spreadsheets and software applications are used to facilitate the workflow.
  • Standardized—At this point, growing companies begin to remove duplicate processes and other wastes by implementing a centralized system, such as an ERP system, as a means of stabilizing and controlling data for improved productivity.
  • Actualized—This is the point where an organization begins to discover ways to utilize data to improve efficiency. Vendor management and customer relations management programs offer increased performance and lowered costs.

Once the infrastructure is in place, it is able to support continued growth and improvements by building a foundation that enhances the methods used to gather, use, and distribute information.

Understanding the Importance of Data Infrastructure

When the infrastructure is developed around the type of data used in an organization, it offers the power to limit operating and capital expenditures while supporting productivity. The elements companies must consider when developing data infrastructure include:

  • Collection Procedures—Organizations can collect data from both internal and external sources. Big data is defined as large amounts of information that can be analyzed to predict trends and patterns relative to behaviors and interactions. Companies can interpret data from sales, financial, logistics, and other internal sources, along with social media and external news sources that guide future endeavors.
  • Storage—The space required to keep all the data collected is another element for consideration. Many companies lack the budget to arrange for in-house servers, but the advent of cloud data storage has solved that problem. As a cost-effective, secure solution, cloud storage offers a useful means for storing and accessing data when required.
  • Analytics—Various software tools and specific engines are able to analyze the information most relevant to an organization. The infrastructure design should include an effective method for drawing conclusions based on company needs.
  • Reporting—This involves transferring analyses into a form that offers easy comprehension for decision makers within the organization. The reporting process is where the data enters and positively affects the actual processes.

Building a data infrastructure that facilitates the way companies collect, apply, and share information enables an environment of growth through efficiency. Understanding the methods of development for a specific organization enhances productivity and lowers costs.