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BEST PRACTICES FOR DISASTER RECOVERY IN THE CLOUD?

BEST PRACTICES FOR DISASTER RECOVERY IN THE CLOUD?

When you are operating a business or organization it is necessary to create an actionable and sound disaster recovery plan in order to protect yourself in the event of a natural disaster like a fire or flood, as well as from cyber-attack.  Disaster recovery plans help your organization to survive and thrive.

With disaster recovery services it makes restarting critical operations seamless and simple.  Cloud recovery services also help to mitigate major losses in revenue that inevitably happen following a slow-down in operations.  To keep your system running while maintaining profitability, a strong disaster plan is absolutely necessary.  Our plan supports business continuity.

In the unlikely event of a disaster, it is vital that you are engaged in a series of best practices to keep your organization safe and operable.  The importance of cloud-based data backup and disaster recovery is vitally essential.  These practices are helpful in protecting business operations, while providing safety against lost data as well as secure document backup.

Develop an effective disaster recovery plan   

The first thing any business needs in developing a disaster recovery plan is a good business impact analysis.  This will enable you to identify your system and dependencies.  Obviously, giving vital importance to your database is a critical component in protecting it.  Disaster recovery services help to support data backup securely.  A competent cloud disaster service will assist you in recognizing the associated risk that your company may face.  Also, disaster recovery helps find the impact of the risks on your IT systems and business procedures.  You should choose those disaster recovery plans that minimize your cost while maximizing benefits.  We also offer select services of continuous data protection as well as full data backup services.  You will have more frequent recovery points if you have more copies of your data.

DATA BACK-UP AND STORAGE – LOCAL OR CLOUD?

In a time of disaster, keeping your data safe and available should be a priority.  In the data-conscious world, cloud computing is becoming ubiquitous.  It offers various advantages for disaster recovery which are described below:

  • Programs and data can be recopied and restored rapidly due to automatic backup of your company’s programs and data…off-site.
  • For availability and maximum data security, redundancy of data banks is applied.
  • Automatic fail-back and fail-over events.

Although, during disaster recovery, local storage is still useful.  For instance, local storage is the most consistent option in case of any disturbance in internet connectivity or any external networks.  The best fit and highest protection for many businesses are a combination of local and cloud storage.

TEST YOUR PLAN REGULARLY

After the full testing of the disaster recovery plan, you will be aware of the efficacy of the plan in the face of disaster.  Regular testing is suggested as the business environment is continuously evolving and changing.  For the most ideal outcome, the following steps should be followed.

  • For your test, set specific goals and define key performance indicators clearly.
  • Along with the testing environment, look closely at the production environment as well.
  • Select a test that transforms your unique business requirements into deliberation.
  • After a full review of test results, update your plan as required.

To ensure system adherence, constant testing at frequent intervals is required.  This is essential especially, after adding new services such as cloud recovery services, network infrastructure changes as well as well as changes in human resources.  You should also include a brief review of the disaster recovery plan with every vital technology placement as well as process improvement.  For example, you will engage both internal and external partners by conduction cross-functional tests on critical processes.  You can use multiple scenarios for the testing.  You should also completely review your plan from top to bottom at least once per year.  After the wide-range review, you can adapt the reflected changes in your organization accordingly.

CONSIDER DISASTER RECOVERY AS A SERVICE (DRAAS).  

Outsourcing to disaster recovery as a service is an alternative option if you don’t have disaster recovery professionals in you in-house office.  Generally, a DRAAS partner can suggest best practices for your ideal business needs.  This is essential to maintain a balance between your unique business needs and essential IT investments.   

For the backup of critical processes, DRAaaS uses cloud resources.  It is also available for creating a secondary infrastructure to secure your complex data in the event of a disaster.  With the help of DRaaS, you can get your data protected and avoid data loss although, the business environment is constantly evolving and changing.  A proficient DRaaS partner can implement instruction according to test results and update your system for maximum security.  

You should also pay attention to your DraaS agreement.  It consists of what will and what will not be offered with your cloud service.  In order to avoid any disturbance, you need to understand it.  You must ensure which operations and what services are essential for this service.  You should know about the accessibility of data and applications and how rapidly they are accessed.  Make sure you are comfortable with the testing and update of service along with the guarantee of the integrity of data.

If you business would like suggestions on the development, testing, or implementation of disaster recovery plans, fee free to contact Abtech Technologies.

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Top 10 Reasons to Refresh legacy DellEMC storage with PowerStore

Top 10 Reasons to Refresh legacy DellEMC storage with PowerStore

As they say, all good things must come to an end. Storage administrators with expiring DellEMC storage solutions know this better than anyone. Acquired by Dell in 2010, Compellent, later dubbed as SC, featured Auto-Tiering which proved as a nifty way to keep the most frequently accessed data on flash media, and tier less frequently accessed data to less expensive spinning media. As newer technologies like NVMe have become affordable, Dell Technologies has cleared the way for a new front runner by expiring service for VNX, EqualLogic and SC. PowerStore, the first storage solution conceived, engineered and launched since the merge, offers features and functionality that build on all of these solutions. Even for Unity Customers, PowerStore is emerging as a storage platform that will be relevant for years to come. For Customers trying to calculate which direction to go, here are some things to think about.
  1. Native Migration: Dell has built in native, non-disruptive migration tools into PowerStore OS. For all of the headaches associated with any storage migration, this is something to think about. This includes LUNs and Volumes, Consistency Groups and Volume Groups as well as thick and thin clones. This is a BIG time-saver.
  2. Block and File: We have come a LONG way since Fluid FS. The ability to manage both from the same pane of glass and the same OS makes life much more simple.
  3. All NVMe: Performance we can afford has arrived. Throughput and IOPS a-plenty.
  4. 4:1 Deduplication is G-U-A-R-A-N-T-E-E-D: With a few exceptions (web-cam video is not included), capacity is sized for effective vs. usable, as Dell guarantees 4:1 data reduction.
  5. Dedicated hardware for deduplication: One of the rubs with UnityXT was that precious CPU and memory needed for I/O was also used for deduplication. There is a dedicated chip in the de-stage path reserved exclusively reserved for dedupe.
  6. Performance and scalability: Scale UP by hanging up to 3 SAS SSD expansion shelves under the first 2 node Base Enclosure OR Scale OUT by managing up to 4 Base Enclosures from a single pane of glass.
  7. Container Based OS: Gone are the days of clunky, slow, monolithic software updates. PowerStore users get more relevant features and functionality faster.
  8. Hypervisor Deployment: In a PowerStore X deployment, with the OS running as a VM, AppsON capability makes 50% of the system resources available to run guest VMs directly on the appliance.
  9. Single Drive expansion: Dynamic Resiliency Engine provides for mixing and matching drive sizes in single drive increments.
  10. Future Proof Guarantee: Satisfaction, Deduplication, and transparent support price guidance is all in writing.
For a demo, sizing, configuration, and preferred refresh pricing, please reach out to Barb Adkison at badkison@abtechtechnologies.com
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‘killware’ Raises the Stakes in the Game of Cyber Security.

‘killware’ Raises the Stakes in the Game of Cyber Security.

As Business Leaders and IT Professionals continue efforts to get off their heels and in front of cyber criminals, the threats are changing and making it more important than ever to protect our most valuable commodity – data.

While ransom events like Colonial Pipeline and Solar Winds certainly grabbed national attention, bad actors continue to quietly evolve their efforts. Colonial Pipeline reminded us that long gas lines, a 5-day shut down and $5M in crypto-currency are without question, undesirable circumstances. Solar Winds showed us that questions around data security in government agencies including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and the State Department are never welcome. Malware is center stage and the complexities of dwell time, customer confidence and lost revenue, to name a few, are real issues. Sadly, this seems to be the starting point for bad actors.

 

Enter killware.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sounded the alarm regarding killware last week in an interview with USA Today. Referencing an attack on the Oldmsar, Florida water system earlier this year, he remarked, ‘The attempted hack of this water treatment facility in February 2021 demonstrated the grave risks that malicious cyber activity poses to public health and safety.’ The attack was intended to distribute contaminated water to residents.

In 2017, Julian Gutmanis, an experienced cyber first responder, was called to an undisclosed Saudi Arabian petrochemical plant where Triton malware had been deployed in an effort to disable safety systems.

In September of last year, Universal Health Services went to paper and diverted incoming ambulances in response to a cyberattack.

Malware is no longer just an issue of business continuity and profit. The next evolution, killware, is a matter of safety.

When it comes to protecting mission critical data, whether it’s accounts receivables, configuration files for day-to-day operations, or even safety systems, ‘good’ is no longer good enough.

On June 2, the White House issued guidance on protecting against ransomware. Among the recommendations, network segmentation was one of the highlights. Dell Technologies’ Power Protect Cyber Recovery solution differentiates by vaulting mission critical data behind an air gap.

Dell’s solution goes one step further by analyzing each replication to the vault at the content level. Using AI, ML and over 100 metrics, the Dell solution ensures integrity of the data by looking for indications of suspicious activity represented by encryption, corruption, and unusual change rates, to name a few. By focusing on the integrity of the data and by analyzing replications at the content level (competing solutions fall short by only looking at the meta-data), customers have the confidence that data in the vault is free of malware.

Multiple copies of data are important, unless they are all just copies of malware.

For a detailed discussion around Cyber Recovery strategies and Abtech Technologies’ 30-year tradition of services, please feel free to reach out at tfrederking@abtechtechnologies.com.

 

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Microsoft Teams Best Features

Microsoft Teams Best Features

Microsoft Teams™ is a real-time, cloud-based platform that provides users with workplace chat, video and audio meetings, file collaboration capabilities, file storage, and so much more.

In this newsletter, you will gain valuable insights into how you can use Microsoft Teams wide array of features to your advantage. Here are just some of the highlights:

  • Collaborate with people outside your organization using the Guest Feature.
  • Easily join the same meeting using multiple devices so you can share content from both.
  • Add, find and share content from your social media accounts into your teams and channels.
  • Utilize an arrangement of Apps, Bots, and Connectors to automate your in daily tasks.

Enhanced Chat

  • Easily chat within a private or public group, team, or channel.
  • Persistent chat messaging lets you create topic-based discussion rooms allowing you to work with people who share a common interest.
  • Ensure your urgent chat messages get noticed by a specific person or group by automatically repeating them every two minutes for up to twenty minutes.
  • Highlight important news in a channel to make important news stand. You can also add subheadings to your news, change the background color, and add pictures to it.
  • Chat messages are, by default, private messages between users that cannot be accessed by anyone other than those involved in the conversation.
  • Use emojis, emoticons, pictures, stickers, reactions, and giphys to add fun to your private, public, team, and channel conversations.

Exceptional Collaboration

  • Work on online documents by yourself or together with others in real-time.
  • Add quotes, tables, pictures, attachments, change fonts, colors, and styles to better illustrate your data.
  • Easily share files with your teammates to make collaboration easy.

Robust Video & Audio Meetings

  • Stay connected by scheduling team meetings, starting instant meetings, or joining ongoing meetings using a smart phone, smart device, computer, or room system.
  • You can also join meetings using two devices at the same time. Share your screen, an app, calendar, or files from one device to another.
  • Stream live events to a large audience; including those not using Microsoft Teams.
  • Use live captions during meetings to ensure everyone can join in.
  • Customize your meetings by personalizing your meeting invitations, backgrounds, features available during your meeting, and screen, file, whiteboard, and app sharing.

Guest Access

  • Allow people with Microsoft Teams accounts to be a guest in your team, even if they are part of another organization. You can control what they can and cannot see and do; including if they can participate in chats, meetings, or access files.

Improved File Storage

  • Files that are uploaded to a channel are stored in the Microsoft SharePoint folder for your team and are available at the top of each channel.
  • Files that are upload to a group or individual conversation are stored in your Microsoft OneDrive for Business folder and are only shared with the people in your conversation. These files are available in your Files tab at the top of your conversations.​

Privacy

  • Modify your privacy settings to keep your account, conversations, teams, channels, meetings, and data secure.
  • Remove unwanted participants from your meetings to ensure only invited attendees join in.

Channel Moderation

  • Use the Channel Moderation feature to control who can post, who can reply to posts, whether bots and connectors can submit messages to a channel, and more.

Apps, Bots, and Connectors

  • Enhance your teams and channels by installing apps, bots, and connectors right inside Microsoft Teams.
  • Install apps to find and share content from your favorite services in your teams and channels.
  • Add bots to your public and private chats and channels to respond to queries, provide updates and notifications, or allow users to interact with cloud services.
  • Keep your teams and channels current by delivering content and updates from the most popular services using connectors.

Search

  • Use the Search feature to find what you need quickly – search for people, chat messages, teams, channels, files, and more.

Cortana Voice Assistance

  • Work on communication, collaboration, and meeting related tasks hands-free and while on the go using Cortana voice assistance with Microsoft Teams. This feature is only available for Microsoft 365 Enterprise Users.

Record Data

  • Record your meetings or calls to capture audio, video, and screen sharing activity for future reference or historical purposes.

Archive, Delete, and Restore Data

  • Archive, delete, and restore teams, team content, tabs, public and private channels, and associated site collections.

Notifications

  • Activity, newsfeed, email, desktop, and other notifications will make sure you never miss a thing in Microsoft Teams, even when you are away.

Mentions

  • Use the @mention feature to get the attention of a specific person or a group of people in a public or private conversation, team, or channel.

Availability Status

  • Keep your availability status current to let others know when you are available.

Time Clock

  • Track the time spent on different projects using the Time Clock feature. You can also track physical locations along with time if location access has been enabled.

Integration

  • Microsoft Teams is seamlessly integrated with Microsoft Office 365, including Skype for Business, increasing your workflow and productivity.

Dark Mode

  • Make reading easier and reduce eye strain by enabling the Dark Mode feature.
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Why move to the Dell|EMC VxRail for your next upgrade?

Why move to the Dell|EMC VxRail for your next upgrade?

HYPERCONVERGED. One of the many buzzwords thrown around today amongst the litany in the IT industry. What is Hyperconverged and how can it help revolutionize your daily business operations? Many years ago, the need for more and more applications caused data centers to grow, so did the need for additional servers. Servers were standalone, single points of failure for data availability. Since the hard disks resided in each individual server, any failures that occurred on that server would cause data to become unavailable until the issue was resolved. This resulted in extended periods of application inaccessibility and loss of productivity. To help solve the issue of a single point of failure, administrators turned to external storage arrays for better utilization of computing hardware and data availability across the compute stack. Enabling data availability to multiple compute resources, the external storage array became common place in the data center and remains so to this day. The storage array solved the problem of data availability for the compute but introduced the added complexity of daily management tasks and maintenance of the array. Many datacenters today still rely on multiple arrays for data accessibility and often from many different vendors resulting in multiple points of contact for problem resolution causing frustration and downtime. A Hyperconverged solution does away with the need for an external storage array and brings your compute and storage hardware back under one roof. Hyperconverged allows local disk storage on servers to be accessible amongst all the servers in the stack.

How is this possible?
VMware vSAN

VMware is the industry leader in virtualization and has continued to mature with a multitude of products and features. Out of that evolution, VMware vSAN was introduced to solve the problem of having to utilize a traditional external storage array.

The Dell|EMC VxRail leverages the vSAN technology and has brought storage back under the same roof by utilizing the local disk drives in the latest generation of Dell|EMC PowerEdge servers. The days of separate physical servers and a separate storage array have been replaced. The introduction of VMware vSAN brought the standalone physical server populated with local hard disks back full circle and allows for continuous uptime and availability.

As for day-to-day management, this is all orchestrated by an interface many administrators are familiar with, VMware vCenter.

VxRail architecture is built on a scale up and scale out methodology. As additional compute and storage resources are required, additional nodes are added to the existing stack allowing your virtual infrastructure to grow with your business needs, all without interruption to daily operation.

The Dell|EMC VxRail solves numerous problems commonly found in datacenters today.

Ease of updates

Now that the storage array is no longer necessary, updates are contained in one easy to install package. All firmware and patches are combined by Dell|EMC and VMware for a hassle-free update process. No need for separate software packages for disparate hardware and possible maintenance windows. It really is the easy button for keeping your virtualization stack up to date.

VMware vCenter – Minimal learning curve

Many system administrators are right at home with this tool. VxRail leverages vCenter as the main interface for your day-to-day operations. VxRail is built utilizing the VMware vSphere platform, there is next to no learning curve when bringing VxRail into your data center, just continue operations as usual. If you have yet to embark on the VMware journey, the intuitive tools and user-friendly interface turn the learning curve more of a slight incline.

Single point of contact for support

Sometimes just keeping the lights are the biggest challenge a system administrator can face. Nothing can make this more difficult than having to deal with multiple vendors who might not take responsibility when an issue arises. The VxRail solves this problem by having a single point of contact for issue resolution. No longer do you have to contact separate vendors for software or hardware issues as the VxRail is all inclusive. The hardware and software support process has been streamlined by Dell|EMC technical support.

Contact the VxRail experts at Abtech Technologies to further discover how the Hyperconverged VxRail platform from Dell|EMC can solve some of the most difficult challenges in your datacenter.

 

 

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How Protected Are Your Backups Against Ransomware?

How Protected Are Your Backups Against Ransomware?

Ransomware today is big business for criminals, so profitable that we are seeing more organized crime and nation-state actors getting involved. The threat landscape today is larger than ever with supply chain attacks targeting major vendors and pushing compromised software updates as seen in the 2021 SolarWinds incident or shipping conglomerate Maersk in 2017. Each week we hear news of a well-known organization or public utility falling victim to ransom demands before data gets destroyed or sensitive information leaked. With the proliferation of untraceable crypto currencies reaching record monetary highs and ever more sophisticated encryption methods – the profit potential is higher than ever.

Experts say the best defense against ransomware is a good backup, but what if your backups get encrypted and held for ransom? What is the cost of not having a reliable backup?

Backups are the literal last line of defense against falling victim to ransomware. No longer should we consider backups an afterthought in case of a deleted file or recovering a previous version of a file overwritten by accident. Successful backup restoration is the single point of failure between paying a ransom and successful restoration of encrypted files. Backups, therefore, need to be protected at all costs.

Modern-day ransomware almost always scans for and targets the local backups first during the initial phases of infection. This is being seen in compromised Exchange Servers exploited from the March 2021 Hafnium attack.

If the ransomware can encrypt the backups or delete backups before the protected computers get encrypted, the higher the chances of collecting the ransom to recover the files. This makes protecting the backups ever more important, as it has become the definitive line in the sand between paying a ransom and recovering the files or losing everything.

Can we trust a criminal to hold their end of the bargain when paying a ransom? Paying a ransom also lets the unknown attacker put a value on this data and increases the likelihood of reoccurrence. Who is to say they will not try again? This makes offsite backups that much more important.

One of the best and often proven backup strategies is keeping a copy of the backups offsite or air-gapped. An air-gapped or off-site backup is an offline copy of the data and far less likely to fall victim to ransomware from a compromised network. This increases the chances of recovery and minimizes the chances of having to pay an actual ransom. A cloud-based backup can be a defining point between a business losing all its data and the need to pay a ransom. The question about a business having offsite backups is now getting asked from cyber liability insurance companies and is becoming a requirement for coverage.

However, just storing data offsite is not enough, downtime from ransomware can be significant ranging from days to weeks of lost revenue. This can be incredibly detrimental to a business’s bottom line. The time for recovery entirely depends on the method used for offsite backups.

One of the best methods for dramatically reducing downtime in case of an incident is performing a cloud-based spin-up. A cloud-based spin-up allows for business-critical servers to come online in a protected cloud environment while recovery and remediation take place at the original location. The replicated backups are physically air-gapped and with a proper retention policy in place, we can restore the data to a point in time before the ransomware encryption. This allows employees and businesses to recover from an incident in a much shorter time frame than restoring from backups to a compromised system. A cloud-based spin-up also allows IT staff to investigate and remediate a current infection and recover from the attack and keep business functioning at the same time.

However, a business’s ability to recover is only as good as their last tested backup. Just replicating backed-up data to the cloud is not enough. It is no longer an “if” for a business to be compromised, but more of a when? Therefore, it is imperative to schedule testing of the backed-up data to the cloud regularly.

All we need to do is imagine the scenario of finding out the backed-up data is not good and what implications it will have. As it is often said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Protecting backups from ransomware is now more important than ever. It can mean life or death for a business.

Fortunately, Abtech has a range of services that meet these needs, under our StorTrust brand. The key benefits include:

  • It is a fully managed service. Abtech manages the recovery so you can concentrate on other issues you may have within the business.
  • The service includes an annual test, so you can be sure your recovery will work.
  • We can provide fully air-gapped solutions as part of our service for the ultimate protection.
  • We include the ability to run your systems in our cloud for up to 30 days for no additional cost. This gives you and your staff time to clean your systems or order new ones.
    If you would like to know more, please call us on 1-800-474-7397 or email info@abtechtechnologies.com
 
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“How To Get The Best Performance From Your SQL Server 2019”

“How To Get The Best Performance From Your SQL Server 2019”

Contrary to common perception, today’s Microsoft SQL Server is no longer an off the shelf RDBMS system that you install and run with its default settings. With version 2019 you get one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced systems on the market comparable to the likes of Oracle.

To help the average user, we have outlined 4 areas to look at with a brief summary and we will be following up with additional articles on the specifics of each.

  • Installation
  • Windows Performance Monitor
  • In-Memory OLTP
  • TempDB

Installation

First, are you using the right version of the SQL Server on the right platform and is it installed correctly? There are different versions of SQL Server and you may be either paying for features you are not using or not using features, in different versions, that may enhance or alleviate issues you’re currently experiencing. Also, SQL Server is not Microsoft Windows server bound, it can be installed other platforms like Linux.

Is the SQL Server installed properly following Microsoft’s best practices?

For instance, are your datafiles all installed in the default locations in the “C” drive and is the correct transactional logging methods being utilized for maximum performance and protection? With a simple audit of the SQL Server environment, you will be able to answer these questions and discover any additional problems that should be addressed. In most cases, the solutions to basic installation mistakes are easily fixed, but you need to know what they are before they can be fixed.

Windows Performance Monitor

Whether your underlying system is a physical server or virtual, do you know if it has the necessary resources to support the demands of the databases running on the SQL Server instance? This is easily done by using a tool most of us are familiar with and that’s Windows Performance Monitor.

At it’s most basic, you can quickly monitor if there is a bottleneck with memory, cpu or disk; which will tell us if more physical resources need to be added. But the Performance Monitor can also be used to perform more advanced SQL Server monitoring by using specialized SQL related counters. These specialized performance counters can help us fine tune the database environment, discover unaware problems or more importantly, help troubleshoot existing performance problems.

To start, we recommend everyone to get familiar with the Performance Monitor tool and the SQL related counters. There is very little risk in using these counters and ,with a bit of research you will be on your way to learning exactly how the SQL environment is running.

In-Memory OLTP

In-Memory OLTP are specific database structures that are stored in memory rather than disk. They offer in-memory optimized tables and indexes, temp tables in memory and natively compiled stored procedures.

As we all know data stored in memory offer a significant improvement in performance and can elevate a system that is experiencing high contention. While implementation of In-Memory OLTP is not a simple task, and requires the necessary physical resources to support its function, it is a feature that should be researched as it’s benefits can be very pronounced.

 

TempDB

Better management of the tempDB can provide a simple route to performance improvement. In the SQL Server world, tempDB contention has always been a common performance problem. By following best practice recommendations for setting up tempDB some of the issues can be alleviated but never completely removed.

Here are some common things to do in configuring the tempDB:

  • create multiple datafiles with the same size and same auto-growth settings and make sure trace flag 1118 and possibly 1117 is enabled.
  • In addition, as mentioned above, utilizing In-memory technologies of SQL Server can help to greatly alleviate the resource contention and allow more flexibility in managing the tempDB.
  • For every active and transaction heavy systems, it is highly recommended to implement the tempDB in-memory.

To get your SQL Server environment running efficiently, it may only require a few simple changes to the use of SQL Servers advanced features. And where do you start? By simply looking at how your SQL Server is setup and documenting what you find. As you document, you will discover common mistakes and better equip you to tackle the more complex tasks your system requires.

If you would like assistance configuring any of these recommendations, or maybe you are looking to outsource your SQL database administration, Abtech can help. We have an experienced SQL team and are the go to resource for many of our customers. We don’t just service the database, we can also look after your network, Windows systems, VMware, Linux and your Exchange environment to name a few.

For more information, please call us on 1-800-474-7397 or email: info@abtechtechnologies.com

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Shifting the IT Team From Reactive to Proactive

Shifting the IT Team From Reactive to Proactive

All too often, your IT team finds themselves running from one problem to the next. As long as everything is going smoothly, they don’t have much to do. When things start to fall apart, however, your IT team starts pulling their hair out! Sound familiar? By shifting your IT team from reactive to proactive, you can help your business day flow more smoothly even when problems arise.

Tighten Down Your Security

Poor network security can cause serious problems for your business: compromised customer information, excessive downtime, and even the loss of company secrets. By tightening down your security, you can help decrease the odds that a data breach will happen to you. The difference between reactive and proactive security is simple: reactive security simply reacts to a potential threat, dealing with the fallout after it becomes known. Proactive security, on the other hand, identifies potential threats and makes sure that your business is protected against them. This might include:

An on-site evaluation that will tell you the weak points in your physical defenses and whether or not a potential intruder will have an easy time accessing your computers, server rooms, and other sensitive areas
An evaluation of your external security, including your website
An evaluation of internal security and how well your network keeps out threats
By staying up-to-date with your IT security and adhering to the recommendations made by the team doing your evaluations, you help protect your customers and your business. It can save you money, increase the time your business spends up and running, and protect your website and network from malware: a winning combination that will help keep your business safe from outside threats.

Increase Your Regular Maintenance

In your business, do you use equipment until it fails, or do you assume a reasonable life of your hardware and replace it before it has the opportunity to cause problems? If you’ve been waiting on problems to occur, you’re being reactive. Proactive replacement might seem more expensive up front, but in the long run, it can save you money. For example:

Replacing computers, from desktops to laptops, before they self-destruct ensures that vital employees won’t end up with unexpected downtime while waiting for a replacement.
Maintaining your software means that you’re always using the latest tools, which will keep your security tighter.
Taking care of routine maintenance on your servers and computers will ensure that everything stays up and running when you need it most.
Encourage your IT team to create a schedule for this maintenance, from machines that are due to be replaced to software that’s recently been updated. While you don’t always have to have the latest and greatest technology on the market, that proactive maintenance will often go a long way toward making your business day run more smoothly.

Anticipate Problems

Ideally, you want an IT team that’s aware of potential problems before they arise. Is there a known fault in a particular piece of software your company uses every day, from a security issue that has just been released online to a known issue that causes the software to crash at random? Does a piece of hardware used by your company have a reputation for self-destructing precisely at the five-year mark? By keeping your IT team up to date on the latest happenings in the field, you can provide your entire business with the tools it needs to keep running smoothly.

Proactive maintenance of all the critical facets of your company’s technology, including hardware, software, and security, protects your company from many of the potential failings associated with technology. Technology is only effective when it works. Shifting your IT team to a proactive stance will give you the confidence that all of your vital technology will keep working for you.

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Archive, Backup, and Disaster Recovery

Archive, Backup, and Disaster Recovery

Backing up, archiving, and preparing for disaster recovery are obviously related. They overlap, but each one names a different purpose. Doing a good job at one of them doesn’t mean they’re all covered. Let’s consider what each one involves. Backup The purpose of a backup is to restore files that are lost or damaged. Recovery needs may range from a single file to an entire drive. A backup volume can be local or remote. It can be quick to access for getting back single files, or intended mostly for bulk recovery. Its focus isn’t long-term storage, though durability is a good quality. Versioned backups provide extra safety. A file can be corrupted, without being noticed, for a long time. If only the current version is backedup, and it’s corrupted too, that’s not useful. A backup that includes older versions gives a better chance of recovery. Many approaches are possible:
  • An attached drive. Software does frequent incremental backups automatically. It’s convenient, and it’s always up to date. The disadvantage is that malware or physical damage to the computer might affect the backup drive as well.
  • A shared storage system. Network attached storage (NAS) provides a large amount of backup space and keeps everyone’s backups together. It simplifies backup management if there are a large number of users.
  • Tape backup. Tape is good for high-volume storage and allows saving multiple backups. It’s good for recovering crashed drives, but not very convenient for restoring single files.
  • Offsite backup. Cloud storage is safer than any local backup from events that affect a whole office. It needs a fast enough Internet connection.
It’s best to combine onsite and offsite backup. If one method fails, the other will usually keep working. Archive Long-term archival storage involves a different set of goals. It has several important criteria:
  • Selection. Not every file needs to go into an archive. Figuring out which ones are needed can be a complicated task. It’s necessary to take business goals and regulatory requirements into account.
  • Durability. Unlike a backup, an archive needs to be kept intact for a long time, usually years. It needs to have its own backup. Storage media will eventually go bad, and old file formats may become difficult to process, so it can require periodic migration to new media and storage formats.
  • Identification. The information in an archive needs to make sense years after it’s created. It needs to be well-organized, and it has to include enough metadata to reconstruct its context and purpose.
Maintaining an archive is a more complex task than keeping data backed up. Disaster Recovery Backup is a part of disaster recovery preparation, but it’s not the whole story. If a catastrophic event takes out your business systems, you need a way of getting up and running again as quickly as possible. Being confident of that requires a recovery plan. When disaster strikes, it’s necessary to bring up an alternate system. Speed is essential; every minute that a company’s systems are down means lost productivity and income. If systems are down too long, it affects the confidence of customers and partners. Bringing new machines onto the premises might not be feasible if the damage is severe, and getting them running is time-consuming. The systems not only need to come back quickly, but with little or no data loss. If the recovery system has to roll back to the previous day’s records, it will take a lot of work to bring them up to date. The backup needs to be ongoing to avoid losing business data. Cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) lets your business operate with confidence that if serious damage happens, downtime will be short and data won’t be lost. StorTrust gives you the highest confidence that your data is always backed up and that you’re prepared for any disaster that may come. Whatever your backup, archiving, and DR needs are, Abtech is ready to meet them.
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Why You Need a Holistic Approach to Business Continuity

Why You Need a Holistic Approach to Business Continuity

If you conduct a 360-degree evaluation of your organization, it’s possible to find different points of vulnerability. Many of these points occur where your company uses computing systems and software applications to automate business processes. Within these systems, you may use various business applications licensed from third-party vendors. Each application may include your servers accessing their software through a virtual connection. History has taught us that each relationship with a vendor introduces a new set of risks to your business. If your objective is business continuity, or continuous operations, your company must assess the risks associated with each vendor relationship. You must also take preventive measures to keep those risks from disrupting core operations.

The Background

When you consider IT risks from a holistic perspective, it’s easy to assume that your company is equal to the sum of its parts. Another viewpoint is pondering how those parts fit together. You want all relationships to stabilize in ways that minimize the points of vulnerability. For example, every software application that your company adds to an existing server network will be affected if it fails during a security breach. Or, servers could be corrupted by a virus or temporarily offline due to a power failure in the data center. While you can’t prepare for every potential risk, you can consider the advantages of spreading out known risks. In one company, this could resemble locating backup servers in a separate location from its primary servers.

The Core Business Relationships

To manage your business well, we recommend that you also review how your people interface with the IT infrastructure. These interactions are affected, sometimes permanently damaged, when there’s an adverse event of a grave nature. If you aren’t prepared for different risks, then your company might begin to lose sales and not serve customers according to the business model. Let’s take the example of the third-party vendor providing a web-based application for order management/order fulfillment. If their ordering system fails, then does your company have a secondary way to process orders? Do you have a backup system that keeps track of all inventory levels and stores each customer order? These are features to look for when choosing the software vendor for order management/order fulfillment. They are part of a comprehensive business continuity plan.

The Fear of Interruption

When an organization must temporarily shut down because of an adverse event affecting its IT network, there is the fear that the interruption will cost the business money. There is the reality that the event’s related costs (whether expected or unexpected) might not fall under the limits of the organization’s disaster insurance policy. On some level, you have the cost of IT personnel working to restore your data infrastructure, especially when they get pulled from other projects to mitigate the problem.

The Need for a Holistic Approach

Taking a holistic approach to business continuity means that your business must address every point of vulnerability within your IT networks, especially through comprehensive vendor management. The goal is ensuring that all computing systems keep functioning after an event while minimizing effects on consumers. But, if your company has already taken a holistic approach to business continuity (i.e. having a backup system for every server), then you could be out of ideas. You might benefit from an outside expert who can objectively evaluate your current operations.

You cannot afford to leave your company exposed to known risks to business operations. Evaluate all vendor relationships and ensure that each of them doesn’t introduce new risks into the infrastructure, especially those that didn’t exist before. Switch to vendors that offer higher levels of security without escalating your costs to the point that their products are not affordable.