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Volume 29, Issue 5

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Re: A Bumpy Landing - Quite Timely

Andy Osborne's blog from last week was truly timely: I've just been assigned a new task by my boss: Take a recovery management plan done for one company site, and sinter it down into a suitable "template" for other "small" company sites.  The task has already shown indications of Andy's experience: the work done by predecessors causing more work.  It's not that wrong things were written, but the document doesn't "flow" like a plan should.  I beieve a "plan" is like a recipe, only longer and without the rewarding aroma to savor at the end.  ;-)

Of the many kinds of plans I've seen over my years in this profession, few really read like a recipe, rather more like a cross between a dictionary with a mixture of random essays.  No flow.  But this time, I feel much better about the prospects, because the plan I'm to use as the starting point has, on one of the early pages after the Table of Contents, a FLOW CHART!!!  It has been my contention since my earliest months in this business, that recovery is a process, meaning it must flow - start at Square One and start marching until you're done.

Perhaps, if you've found yourslef feeling like your plan lacks something, maybe it needs some improvement in its flow.  Developing recovery plans can't (easily) effect a timely recovery without flow, because no matter how many people you throw at the disruption, the lack of flow will have them bumping into one another.

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The 21st Century Data Center

The emergence of the data center began in the 1990s, when companies began installing servers on their premises, replacing clunky and outdated mainframes. As technology improved, these spaces moved to off-site facilities with more dedicated resources. Today’s data centers are impressively sized, with countless premium features. In fact, the world’s largest data center—located in Las Vegas, Nevada—covers over nine acres of data real estate!

A traditional data center is an industrial building in which space is provided for server infrastructure, along with power resources, cooling systems, cabling, natural disaster suppression technology, and the most up to date security measures. To maintain cost efficiency, data centers are normally built where overhead costs such as electricity and real estate are low, but still have the ability to maintain an adequate staff. It is important to note that traditional data centers can be expensive to build in terms of monetary value and time; this cost is likely handed down to the customers down the road.

Prefabricated data centers (also referred to as modular data centers)—ones that are able to fit within standard shipping containers—are becoming the new norm. These modular centers give companies the ability to customize server architecture on demand as necessary. A modular data center can be placed anywhere data capacity is needed.

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Data Reduction, Not Just Data Deduplication!

It is not all about data deduplication! Many data protection products and providers talk about data deduplication as if it will save the world. In fact, data deduplication is only a small part of the solution. What we need to be talking about is across the board data reduction.

Data reduction technologies are the first line of defense against rapidly expanding data volumes and costs. STORServer provides built-in data reduction technologies, such as progressive-incremental backup, data deduplication and data compression, enabling organizations to reduce backup storage capacity by as much as 95 percent.  STORServer also provides advanced tape management and efficient tape utilization capabilities, which can further reduce data storage capacity requirements.

While competing solutions create massive amounts of duplicate data through repetitive full backups, necessitating expensive data deduplication solutions, Tivoli Storage Manager provides progressive-incremental backup technology that avoids the duplicate data in the first place by creating only an initial full backup and then capturing only new and changed data. Built-in data compression and data deduplication operate at multiple storage layers to minimize the amount of data being retained for operational and disaster recovery.

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Why People LOVE the Cloud

You may have been researching the process of incorporating a cloud hosting solution into your business practice, or you may just be curious about this relatively new phenomenon. Either way, you will soon see that there is nothing but love for the cloud.

Traditionally, running a server required paying monthly subscription fees for chunky, lagging systems that you could either maintain on your own premises or pay even more for it to be occasionally maintained by a data center staff member. No more! The new technology of the cloud allows customers to pay for what they need, and only what they need.

To create cloud server, cloud service providers cluster together resources and create a singular server that can be divided amongst various clients. Because the space is shared instead of allocated to one single client, customers can change their bandwidth and power needs as necessary. Also, uptime is practically 100% guaranteed due to the fact that if there is any sort of hardware failure on one portion, the others will absorb and cushion the damage.

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What to know about private cloud!

Before considering cloud-based data protection, it is important to first understand the basics of cloud, which can sometimes be foggy (at best). With trade magazines and publications defining the "cloud" in a number of different ways, IT managers and executives are often confused about the true meaning of the term; however the recent maturation of cloud-based services has helped the definition become more focused.

 In a nutshell, there are two main types of cloud-based data protection services: public and private. The public cloud is where data is on a shared infrastructure. In a private cloud, data is on dedicated infrastructure and the owners of that data share no part of it with others. There are variations of the public and private cloud, including combinations of the two that result in a "semi-private cloud," but for the sake of clarity, we will stay away from that topic.

In data protection, there are some popular configurations to consider. The first is disaster recovery to a private cloud, which assumes an existing solution is onsite and has a backup copy and perhaps an archive copy. Usually this involves a system with disks and/or tape that keeps the data protected for a set duration of time. It then assumes that users want to automate disaster recovery to another location. Customers who need this cloud offering typically want to move away from a tape solution or have not yet installed a disaster recovery technology.

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Practical Business Continuity Management

By Andy Osborne, Consultancy Director, Acumen Author of Practical Business Continuity Management

I've just finished doing one of those straightforward "I'll knock that off in a day or two" type 

jobs. It only took me seven days. Over a period of four and a half weeks. The last stint used up pretty much the whole of my weekend. As a result, I now have the backache from hell, serious hockey withdrawal symptoms and a bad case of boarder's knee. That's floorboarder's, rather than snowboarder's, knee by the way - I don't think they suffer particularly from sore knees, although most of them must suffer terrible frostbite of the derrière from all that sitting in the snow, but that's another story (see "Ski boots and celery").

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Combining Public and Private Clouds to Create the Hybrid Cloud

You may have heard the terms “public cloud” and “private cloud,” but what does it all mean? What happens when you combine the two to create the mysterious “hybrid cloud?”

Large corporations with the monetary resources available to build, develop and manage a server infrastructure most often use private cloud services. While obviously more expensive, a private cloud gives the builder complete control over the infrastructure and surrounding environment. It is important to note that those in charge of such a solution must be extremely skilled and confident in running a massive environment.

Most small to medium-sized businesses opt for a public cloud environment. This type of cloud offers web‐based applications and other cloud services. The hardware and operating systems are not owned by the client, but instead rented through a third-party vendor (a cloud hosting provider). One disadvantage to this solution is that the data is not stored locally; instead, data is stored and managed by the provider.

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Let's have some fun?

So you have planned.  You have a strategy.  You are ready.

Are you really?

Sure you have done planned testing.  But... people knew it was coming.   You probably made all the plans for your test weeks in advance.  You knew where you were going, when your were going and who was responsible for what.  That hardly seems fair.  That is not going to happen in real life.

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Industries that Will Gain from Adopting the Cloud

The phenomenon of cloud computing has been a trending topic for the past few years. As the technology improves, companies are increasingly coming to rely on cloud hosting capabilities and the countless benefits it offers. You may just be surprised by the various industries that have much to gain by adopting the cloud.

The need and demand for education will never decrease, and is actually one of the fastest‐growing industries in the world. By incorporating cloud services into the everyday business routine, educators will be able to host classes remotely, interact on a more personal level in online classes, and collaborate with peers and students with greater ease.

Modern technology within the healthcare industry is astonishing, and by utilizing cloud servers, medical professionals can easily access medical reports, give patients thorough advice and discuss administrative business with office staff.

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How the Cloud is Helping Companies Maximize Profit

The relocation of your company’s technical infrastructure to the cloud may appear to be a frightening one—every aspect of your technology will need to be adjusted to appropriately reflect its new location. However, there is good news: according to a recent article in CIO, more than half of businesses are moving their capabilities to the cloud, and the majority of these companies are noticing increased profit.

One of the core reasons cloud solutions save customers money is because companies no longer need to utilize resources such as manpower (and the salary to fuel this manpower) to keep their infrastructure running. A cloud server will practically run itself, since there is no complex architecture to maintain.

Money that is saved through the use of a cloud server can be turned back around and invested in increasing employee count, raising current wages and promoting an innovative environment.

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Questions to Ask When Considering Cloud Storage

 

If you are new to the cloud hosting industry, you may be slightly confused by the variety of options available regarding cloud storage. You may keep hearing the term “cloud computing” and not quite understanding what it means. You may not even be sure if the cloud is just hype. Choosing a cloud hosting provider can be difficult, but with just a few tips, you will be fast on your way to your new host.

Do I need my data in a specific location? While many initially believe that the cloud is actually an invisible force located high above our heads, the cloud actually serves as a platform hosted in a number of data centers. If you work in an industry where the location the data resides is important, you should look for a provider who provides the option of controlling the location of the cloud.

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The Basics of Defending Your Network Security

 

Each day on the news, there is a new headline regarding a large corporation that has had its website intruded by anonymous hackers who have released a surprisingly large amount of personal information. The first step to maintaining a large website is to understand the fundamentals of network security.

For any large business with multiple cloud servers, perhaps the most critical step to take is to install a firewall between the cloud server and the Internet itself. Firewalls can be configured to restrict the flow of traffic and examine the websites visited by traffic. Malicious users can be easily thwarted.

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How to Know When VPS is Better than Shared or Dedicated Hosting

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is a great solution for those whose needs and expectations are not met by shared hosting or whose website has outgrown their shared hosting plan. Virtual Private Servers provide users with root-level access to the server, while still keeping the ease and simplicity of a shared hosting account.  Essentially, VPS is like a dedicated server, except that you “own” only part of the server’s resources.

You may ask, why not choose dedicated server hosting then? Businesses who choose VPS hosting usually cannot afford dedicated servers, but would like more from their hosting services than provided by shared hosting. While dedicated servers are a big financial and technical investment, VPS offers an “in between” option between this and shared hosting - complete with technical support and no requirement to own the hardware.

A few benefits of VPS hosting include:

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Tech Upgrades to Consider as You Grow Your Small Business

The business world today is all about staying current and competitive in your industry. As your small business looks to the future, consider these tech upgrades to help your business remain up to date and competitive in today's market. The following suggestions are relatively easy and affordable for most small businesses to implement:

Ensure Your Internet Speed is Up To Par

As a growing small business in today's world of instant information, optimal connectivity is essential, no matter the industry you are in. Make sure your Internet is fast, and don't be afraid to invest in it because a faster Internet helps increase productivity and efficiency. It can also mean faster upload and download speeds.

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The Effects of Cloud Adoption on IT Departments

For both small- and large-scale businesses, there appears to be a growing trend: executives are adopting cloud computing into their everyday activities with little to no aid from their in‐house IT departments.  In fact, the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is changing at a rapid pace due to the quick evolution of cloud computing and cloud hosting

Since the introduction of the computer, IT departments have been tasked with fixing various infrastructure issues regarding storage, email and accessibility.  As cloud technology evolves, it would appear that these positions are also evolving; the use of applications such as Dropbox and Google Apps have virtually eliminated these issues, allowing IT employees to work on more critical problems.

CIOs who can see the growing benefits that cloud adoption offers are the ones who will be most successful in the future, as the deliberate non‐adoption of such technology is not only bad for business, but has negative effects for employees who wish to adopt the technology in their daily business routine.

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Does the Cloud Reduce Downtime?

 

The word “downtime” is one that the customer of any hosting provider dreads to hear. It is used to explain the common occurrence in which a server or website hosted on that server is busy or unavailable as a result of scheduled maintenance or even a system failure. Any time a server is down, all the information you have stored on the server—whether it is an application, a website, or files—will also be down. 

One of the most notable benefits of cloud hosting is the fact that downtime in the cloud is virtually eliminated. Cloud solutions are extremely reliable, and if a cloud server does happen to go down, it is often only for a few seconds. Cloud service providers have back-up systems that kick in when the main server experiences problems.

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Cloud Computing Forecasts for 2013

When it comes to cloud computing, expectations are high for 2013. Businesses of all sizes—from garage-based startups to multinational corporations—are putting their resources into utilizing cloud computing technologies and services to help them deliver products and services, while reducing overhead operating costs. 

Nearly 50% of all enterprises in North America and Europe are predicted to set aside budgets for cloud investments this year. Additionally, 50% of software development companies are planning to deploy applications in the cloud. According to a research report by 451 Market Monitor, the cloud computing marketplace will reach $16.7 billion in revenue this year, compared to a revenue of $8.7 billion in 2010. 

Perhaps the most astonishing prediction was one released by Markets and Markets in their Cloud Storage Market-Worldwide Forecasts and Analysis research report: the cloud storage market will astronomically increase in revenue from $5.6 billion in 2012 to $46.8 billion in 2013! 

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A Few Characteristics of Cloud Hosting

The term “cloud computing” refers to any activity or service that involves the “cloud.” No—not a literal cloud! This metaphorical cloud is a virtual system that is accessible online, where users can perform a wide variety of IT tasks. Cloud hosting is just one of the many utilizations of this technology. 

Cloud hosting allows a website to no longer be limited to a single server, as previously seen with dedicated and VPS hosting. A cloud-hosted website will have access to multiple cloud servers. One of the greatest benefits of cloud hosting is the virtually unlimited processing power, as users can always scale up if necessary. 

The cloud can easily cope with changing client demands without needing to revamp the architectural framework. Users and service providers can easily predict new requirements, whether it is processing speed, bandwidth or data storage. Cloud computing is also extremely cost-efficient—especially for businesses—because users only pay for what data they actually use.

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Data Can Be Just as Secure (If Not More So) in the Cloud

According to a survey performed earlier this year by CIO.com, 54% of all IT security professionals cite cloud computing security as their top priority.  Another 32% cite security as a middle priority for them.  However, 85% of IT professionals are confident in their cloud provider’s ability to provide a secure environment for their data. 

Security has always been a concern when sensitive data is involved and this concern is heightened when it comes to cloud services outside of the corporate wall because no longer is it under the company’s direct supervision.  It is human nature to be afraid of the unknown, but the risks of cloud computing come with a plethora of benefits as well.  For example, the cloud offers greater flexibility, scalability, and agility, allowing IT staff to complete tasks in hours rather than weeks or months.

Depending on the size and nature of your business, entrusting your data to a cloud provider may be every bit as secure (if not more so) than your in-house security. This is because top-quality cloud hosting providers invest a significant amount of resources into security, much more than most small to medium-sized businesses can afford.  Also, most cloud providers make an effort to always keep up with the latest in security so that they can provide the best service to their customers. 

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How many lives does your data have?

By Sameer Sule

SANDY- if you live in the northeast you will not forget her name for a long time. Every CEO, business owner and home owner was holding his/her breath as Sandy blew over us. I know I was. My house is surrounded by trees and every time a 50 mph gust came, I was praying to the higher power that the branches held up. Unfortunately a tree on the adjoining street couldn’t hold up and came down, knocking the power out from our neighborhood for a day. We were the lucky ones! Others in the NY and NJ area weren’t so lucky. 

The damage to people, property and businesses in NY and NJ  is unimaginable.  According to early estimates over 100,000 homes and businesses were completely destroyed or severely damaged. Many business owners have lost everything and may never recover. All their life’s work gone in a blink of an eye.  My prayers go out to people who have been disastrously affected by Sandy. Could they have done more to protect their businesses? In some cases the answer is no; we are powerless in front of mother nature and despite our best preparations things can go real bad. But in many cases, I am sure business owners are cursing themselves for not being better prepared. Most businesses do not have disaster recovery plans in place. Simple things like backing up data in a secure place, having redundant power supply such as a portable generator are not in place.Taking these simple steps can mean the difference between business recovery or business death. 
Events like Hurricane Sandy remind us how close we get to losing everything. Its just a matter of luck that one business or home gets destroyed and another doesn’t. Yet many of us thank our stars and move on without really considering what we can do to protect our family, home and business in the event of a disaster. We live in an information age and our life is practically a collection of bytes. Apart from a few hard copies most of our information is now stored in electronic format. Now is the time for those of us lucky enough to escape unscathed from Sandy to take a look at what is important in our lives and take steps to safeguard it. Do we have all our important documents in a safe place? How about all our electronic data- our files, family pictures, legal information, financial information? Have they been backed up online and can we recover them easily afterwards?
Knowing that we can recover our critical data after a disaster will make the recovery process relatively easier. So unless your data is a cat with nine lives, Sandy just used up one. How many more lives does your data have?

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