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Summer Journal

Volume 29, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

Increased Unpredictability Means Now Is the Time for Your Clients to Protect What Matters

At best, hurricane season predictions are uncertain. This year El Niño and La Niña are set to make the season’s forecast even more volatile. No matter the forecast, it is important to ensure that your clients are covered for every possibility. Even with an uncertain season, Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science predicts a 97 percent chance of a named storm making landfall in the United States. Now is the time to take action and talk to your clients about being financially protected before the next flooding event.

Hurricanes have caused eight of the 10 costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. Although hurricane-force winds cause damage, so do storm surge, heavy rains, and flash floods—even in areas far from the coast. With the increased unpredictability of this hurricane season, it is urgent that you talk with your clients now about flood insurance, especially given the 30-day waiting period required for a flood insurance policy to take effect. Don’t wait until a storm is on the way to have the flood talk—it will be too late to secure the proper financial protection for your clients.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is calling for a 50 percent chance of La Niña. According to NOAA, La Niña creates hurricane-friendly conditions in the Atlantic Basin, which leads to a more active season. Yet if El Niño lingers, it could lead to heavy rainfall across the South; it has already caused devastating flooding in eastern Texas and Louisiana.

Help your clients understand the risks facing their homes with the Flood Risk Scenario Tool at Agents.FloodSmart.gov. You can even embed it on your website for easier access.

Financial Peace of Mind

Without flood insurance, your clients will have to pay for flood damage out of pocket, which can be costly. From 2011 to 2015, the average flood claim was more than $46,000. Yet in 2015, the average National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) premium was about $700 a year—tens of thousands of dollars less than the average claim. Use FloodSmart’s interactive Cost of Flooding Tool to illustrate how much it could cost to repair damage to a home with even a small amount of water.

Flood insurance ensures that your clients are protected financially against the devastating effects of flooding without having to rely on post-disaster loans, which usually must be paid back with interest. Have the flood talk with your clients before the storms so they can financially protect their home with flood insurance.

Agent Resources

The unpredictable hurricane season presents the perfect opportunity to talk with your clients about flood insurance. Agents.FloodSmart.gov has valuable tools and resources to help you effectively communicate flood risk and flood insurance information with your clients.

You can also sign up for the FloodSmart Agent Referral Program, which provides you with free qualified leads. Prospective clients who visit FloodSmart.gov can enter their address into the Agent Locator or One-Step Flood Risk Profile and be connected with an agent in their area registered with FloodSmart’s Agent Referral Program. Your name will also appear on FloodSmart direct mailings and be used by the NFIP Referral Call Center to transfer leads directly to you.

Hurricane season will be here before you know it. Take advantage of FloodSmart’s resources to help your clients protect what matters. Because it’s more than your client’s house—it’s their home.

Today, renewable energy as core part of a company’s data center strategy makes more sense than ever, and not only because it looks good as part of a corporate sustainability strategy. The price of renewable energy has come down enough over the last several years to be competitive with energy generated by burning coal or natural gas, but there’s another business advantage to the way most large-scale renewable energy purchase deals are structured today.

Called Power Purchase Agreements, they secure a fixed energy price for the buyer over long periods of time, often decades, giving the buyer an effective way to hedge against energy-market volatility. A 20-year PPA with a big wind-farm developer insures against sticker shock at the pump for a long time, which for any major data center operator, for whom energy is one of the biggest operating costs, is a valuable proposition.

Internet and cloud services giants, who operate some of the world’s largest data centers, are privy to this, and so is the Pentagon. The US military is second only to Google in the amount of renewable energy generation capacity it has secured through long-term PPAs, according to a recent Bloomberg report.



A study, conducted by Countercept by MWR InfoSecurity, has found that 33 percent of IT professionals spoken with believe they do not have the skills, people or technology to identify the attacks that matter. When asked to pinpoint why threats get through defences, 62 percent blamed the overwhelming threat landscape citing that they can't protect everything all of the time.

The poll, conducted during Infosecurity Europe, asked 301 IT security professionals their views of their organization’s ability to detect and deflect attacks. While the overwhelming threat landscape scored highest, pointing the finger of blame at an employee was also popular (cited by 51 percent,) closely followed by how quickly threats change (50 percent). A lack of resources was also considered a key element to an organization’s inability to prevent attacks getting through defences (46 percent).

“Many security solutions focus wholly on cyber attack prevention, but determined attackers will always find a workaround. That’s why prevention alone is not enough, and perhaps why the people spoken with during this study felt ill prepared,” suggests Peter Cohen, strategic director of Countercept. “The reality is that the odds are very much stacked in the hackers’ favour, with organizations playing catch up as they try to anticipate an attacker’s next move, trying to stay one step ahead instead of always constantly behind. But it’s not easy.”


Jason Collier looks at the difficulties that SMBs often experience when developing IT disaster recovery and business continuity plans and claims that switching to a hyperconverged approach will solve many of the issues.

Disaster recovery and business continuity are becoming increasingly significant to the well-being of today’s small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) but, while disaster recovery and business continuity are closely aligned, they are not identical. Disaster recovery is the process of restoring lost data, applications and systems following a profound data loss event, such as a natural disaster, a deliberate data breach or employee negligence. Business continuity takes it a step further with the aim of not only recovering the computing environment but recovering it swiftly and with zero data loss.

A good business continuity plan for a company of any size consists of two key elements: an always-on infrastructure for running critical applications on-premises and a good backup and disaster recovery plan with reasonable recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO) in case an unforeseen incident affects the primary site.



When you sit down with a prospective client to discuss migrating data to the cloud, the client will likely point to the grabby headlines promising amazing cost savings. Here's where you look the client in the eye and say, “Short term or long term?”

That’s not a rhetorical question. In fact, it goes to the heart of one of the top reasons why enterprises and small and midsize businesses are rapidly embracing cloud computing. In study after study, IT professionals mention their desire to reduce costs as being among their chief reasons for taking the plunge.

But MSPs would do well by their clients to broaden the conversation. Not only will it play to the many strengths that experienced services providers can offer, but it can help avoid potentially unpleasant conversations later on when the client tallies up its initial costs and comes back to you with a litany of complaints.



Left to their own devices, a lot of users play fast in loose with data backup. They’ll back up when they remember or ignore backups altogether because they haven’t quite processed the consequences of data loss. But taking this approach to business data can have devastating consequences, and MSPs should make sure their customers are aware of the very real costs of data loss, be it as a result of a security incident, natural disaster or some other reason.

A 2014 study by Vanson Bourne for EMC estimated the worldwide total of data loss at $1.7 trillion – not too far from the gross national product of Canada, currently estimated at $1.83 trillion.

It’s such a massive number that your customers may look at it as more of an abstraction than something they can truly grasp. So let them try these costs on for size instead: The average cost of a lost or stolen record increased12 percent in 2015 to $154 from the previous year, according to a study conducted by Ponemon Institute for IBM. The average per-incident cost rose 23 percent to $3.8 million.



(TNS) - The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported Thursday that it may take months to fully reopen flood-damaged highways in Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties. Damage from the flooding — caused by 8 to 10 inches of rain that fell Monday into Tuesday — is estimated at more than $10.5 million in Iron County alone.

U.S. Highway 2 between Ashland and Hurley, U.S. Highway 63 near Grand View in Bayfield County and State Highway 13 between Ashland and Mellen remained closed Thursday because of washouts.

Those three closures are forcing lengthy detours for drivers in the region — and the floodwaters washed away many other town, county and state highways.

WisDOT reported Thursday that damage assessments of state highways are still underway. On Highway 2, water levels near Odanah were still too high to fully assess the damage as of Thursday afternoon, WisDOT spokeswoman Diana Maas reported.



(TNS) - Chicago police, firefighters and paramedics conducted two active shooter drills Thursday at Wrigley Field, testing how they would react to gunmen opening fire in the stadium.

About 200 first responders were faced with this scenario: Two gunmen get through Gate J near the left-field bleachers and start shooting, resulting in a mass-casualty situation.

As the drills began, music, cheers and game announcements were interrupted by sudden gunfire and screaming using simulated ammunition and fake victims.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Mark Nielsen said the script called for the gunmen to shoot security guards and get access into the stands to shoot people on a fictitious game day. About 100 volunteers posed as fans in the stands, including off-duty police officers, Cubs employees and members of the city's Community Emergency Response Team.



You might remember a blog from our own Todd Brannon called “All about that BaaS” which outlined a jointly tested reference architecture for “Backup as a Service” with Commvault software. That engagement advanced Commvault to preferred solution partner status to deliver our joint customers a solution that is fully tested for compatibility with Cisco UCS servers and also comes with a 24/7 support model. The solution is targeted for enterprise and cloud service providers and consists of Commvault software running on the Cisco UCS C3000 series of storage optimized servers providing secondary storage. A lot can happen in a year when participating in Cisco’s Solution Partner Program and I am excited to share with you the latest developments around Data Protection and our continued partnership with Commvault.



(TNS) - Time constraints often add pressure and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) deal with death’s deadline measured on the second hand of a life’s clock.

Through practiced repetitious drillings, EMTs hone lifesaving measures into second nature responses and gain readiness for any predicament by training for the worst, morbid scenarios.

On Wednesday, EMTs engaged in active shooter training at the North Carolina National Guard Armory on Stadium Drive, practicing the proper procedures for providing medical attention and extraction to shooting victims in the midst of hostile environments, still surrounded by threats.