The Cost Benefits of Investing in a Third Party IT Maintenance Services

Working with a third-party ensures your company gets unmatched support in your system upgrades and updates and lets you relax knowing that anything or any issue related to IT that will arise will get the significant attention needed at no extra cost. With 24-hour monitoring services and flexible alternatives offered by third-party firms, the cost benefits enjoyed by the organization are huge. Contact us now for more information.

When is it Appropriate to Move From OEM Support to Third-Party Maintenance?

No doubt you've had considerable experience with OEM support ending on your IT equipment over the years. If you're experiencing this for the first time, it might incite a bit of minor panic since you've perhaps relied on this support for a while. Original equipment manufacturers frequently want to move on from legacy support because they want to build their own future.

In many ways, OEM support ending after two or more years is a symbiotic process, if by force. They're essentially weaning you off OEM support reliance so you can benefit from third-party maintenance.

Going with a third-party maintenance plan isn't a bad transition for various reasons, though you'll want to know when it's appropriate. It's better to transition before your OEM support ends so you won't have to scramble to find something suitable.

Declining Value in OEM Support Agreements

For some IT equipment, it's sometimes possible to enter a longer OEM support agreement than others. Often, they'll allow you to enjoy several years of support and then extend to a limited point through contract renewals.

Maybe you're doing this now. Regardless, it's worth noting as each year ensues, you're receiving less support value. Since many IT manufacturers want to move forward to provide new technologies you'll want to buy, they don't waste time with an entire decade or more of support privileges.

When you start losing OEM support value, it could place you in jeopardy if you have a serious IT issue arise. An emergency might come up and you'll realize the 24/7 support you once enjoyed is now extremely limited or non-existent.

If you find yourself in a tech emergency on a weekend or holiday, you're basically left on your own to find technical help.

This is why you're better off switching to third-party maintenance before your OEM support starts to degrade in quality.

The Growth of Third-Party Maintenance

Dissatisfaction with OEM support is one of the main reasons companies switch to third-party maintenance recently. According to statistics, 75% of companies make this switch because OEM support didn't help with changing business requirements.

Data like this shows why maintenance from outside sources has rapid growth in IT departments worldwide.

When you find a new maintenance team, you're going to discover they give you far more benefits than if sticking long-term with the OEM process.

Costs and Customization

It's going to cost less hiring a third-party maintenance company because you're basically outsourcing much of the technical help. They already have a dedicated team that's going to monitor your IT equipment and even provide remote support when needed. In many cases, this means using pre-owned equipment, despite many businesses preferring this to save money.

You're also giving yourself far more freedom. OEM support systems frequently prevent you from using your network for the entirety of its useful life. Now you can, including adding things to it the original manufacturer didn't allow.

Better IT Management

Keep in mind you're going to receive excellent IT management going through a third-party source. Many of these maintenance companies offer IT advisors, something you wouldn't find with the OEM.

Through your advisor, they'll guide you through any upgrades you want to do, the best equipment to use, and how much money you should spend.

With the new trend being decoupling hardware and software to extend the tech life cycle, a new IT paradigm is already here. Keeping costs under control is obviously a major hurdle for all companies. Now you can stop playing risk, especially when relying on security technology.

Visit us at Abtech Technologies to ask about our security products to augment business continuity and compliance.

Advantages of Cloud Computing Features

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In recent years, the cloud computing world has evolved to provide almost everything for your business "as-a-service" and does it for a relatively low monthly fee. Cloud computing features also include converged infrastructure and solid state drives. Read on for tips on these features that may prove advantageous for your business.

As-a-Service. The list of cloud offerings as-a-Service grows each year. We encourage you to carefully review the various as-a-service cloud services available from cloud service providers. Do not commit to any cloud service that cannot handle your data securely and does not operate in the way that you want to operate. You will want to explore the providers' responses to any data security questions before committing to a specific cloud provider to ensure that you make the best choice. If the provider cannot answer your questions to your satisfaction, do not buy the service.

 

Software as a Service
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is probably the most ubiquitous of the cloud offerings. SaaS permits some choices within the software features offered, however, customers cannot customize the underlying code. If your business requires extensive changes to the SaaS code, you probably won't get them -- which is not such a bad thing. After all, you wouldn't want the shared cloud code to include changes that you expected would give you a leg up over your competition. Any code change accepted by the cloud provider will be available to all who use the SaaS. That's how as-a-service offerings work. The cloud provider makes client requested changes at one time and every customer gets to take advantage of the changes.
  • Database-as-a-Service. DB-as-a-Service is, at its core, a sub-specialty of the software-as-a-service model. It is a managed service that provides access to a cloud database that the DBaaS customer uses with cloud applications and their own data. All the administration and management of the database stays with the cloud provider so all the customer has to do is use its database. Businesses that want to retain more control over the database can do so under optional features. Cloud providers base payment on the features used and the amount of storage capacity the database requires. Some DB systems do not support compression or table partitions so it is imperative that you understand what your existing system can do and what your business requires from its database before you commit to DBaaS.
  • Identity-as-a-Service. ID-as-a-Service is an infrastructure for authentication that resides in the cloud. It is a way of managing identity that includes all of the things we've come to appreciate about services in the cloud, such as smaller on-site infrastructure; easy management; and a range of integration options. IDaaS is popular with smaller organizations or large organizations with satellite locations who do not have the expertise in-house to have strong identity architecture. Such businesses move identity security to the cloud believing that the cloud provider is an expert in the field. ID-as-a-Service raises questions of regulatory compliance, auditing, and how the ID cloud provider will handle disclosures of sensitive customer information. Since this is an evolving area, do not count on the law to demand cloud provider surety against disclosure of sensitive information. Do your due diligence review.

Converged Infrastructure. The term converged infrastructure refers to the process of grouping various information technology (IT) elements together into one computing package. The packaged IT elements act more efficiently than the elements would if acting independently. These elements may include servers, network management, infrastructure management software, and data storage devices. Converged infrastructure approaches data center management in a way that looks to decrease incompatibility issues among all these elements.

Converged Infrastructure provides advantages over the traditional silo approach to computing. Converged Infrastructure allows networks to handle Big Data more efficiently through a single, IT management system which integrates the various components.

Solid State Drives. Traditional computers have spinning hard drives (HDD) for storage. Designers developed Solid State Drives (SSD) originally for ultra mobile devices. Today, you can choose to have SSD for your operating system and HDD for other purposes.

SSDs have no moving parts so they fly in the face of what we traditionally think of as "hard drives". The term refers to storage devices that save data on solid-state flash memory drives. Solid-state means the devices use solid semi-conductor (instead of electron tube) memory stored on a flash drive that uses integrated circuits rather than magnetic or optical media to store data.

SSD advantages are lower random access and read latency (think, wasted time) than traditional hard drives which gives SSDs higher input/output efficiency. It also means they are the best option for workloads that involve heavy read. Servers, laptops, and applications that deliver in real-time benefit from the SSD's ability to read directly from a specific SSD cell. The final takeaway is that SSDs are many times faster than electromechanical disc drives.

Archive, Backup, and Disaster Recovery

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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.

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

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.

Is Your Data Really Safe?

The key to understanding whether or not your data is safe lies in understanding the threats to it. Most attackers will attempt to come in by several very common avenues.

Every organization will face different threat levels. For example, if you're in finance or are a utility company, you're going to be facing more persistent and creative angles of attack than a small locally-focused shop will. That doesn't mean that there is any one type of business or set of circumstances where you can just forget about security, however. The internet is crawling with hackers and automated malware, and there's always some willing to grab up low-hanging fruit if the right door is left open.

Be sure to consider all of the following possibilities when reviewing your network security policies and procedures.

  • "Phishing" and Social Engineering Attacks

So-called "soft" attacks in which hackers attempt to exploit company employees have become much more common than attacks against the software or hardware of the network. That's because they're much easier to pull off and actually have a higher rate of success.

The main angle of attack is by email. Attackers can mass-mail to everyone in the company, but they may also do some homework and try to target specific entities by profiling them using publicly available information. Whatever the case, the endgame is the same; get the employee to either open a tainted email attachment, or to follow a link to an attack site that automatically installs malware.

The most common varieties of malware that will be installed are keyloggers or ransomware. A keylogger sits in the background and records keystrokes, possibly also taking periodic screenshots, and quietly forwards these to the hacker so that they can steal login information and private data. Ransomware encrypts vital files on the network, and the hackers then demand a payment (or two, or three) in return for the password to unencrypt them.

The biggest first step in defeating phishing attacks is to ensure that all email clients used on the network do not automatically download or run attachments! While mass-mail phishing attacks are usually easy to spot, a targeted attack may come from a "spoofed" email address that seems to be legitimate. Employees should be instructed to verify with the other party by phone or instant message if an unexpected attachment is sent or if they are asked to visit an external site out of the blue. As a safeguard against ransomware, you can also run automated "snapshot" systems that periodically send backups of network data to both the cloud and a local storage system.

 

  • Documented Software Exploits

While nearly every business has some data a hacker wouldn't mind having, some are much more interesting than others. For example, a company like Google or Goldman Sachs will regularly employ teams of hackers called "penetration testers" who try to find completely new and novel ways to break into their systems, ensuring they are on the cutting edge of security at all times.

A more "average" business doesn't face this kind of advanced threat. If the data they are guarding isn't particularly juicy, hackers will generally try known exploits against the software they are running and move along if none of them work. So how do you protect against these exploits? Primarily, it's by making sure you have the latest updated versions of each piece of software and app, as they receive continual security patches against newly discovered vulnerabilities. Old, discontinued software should also be replaced with something more modern, as new vulnerabilities will no longer be patched.

 

  • Discarded, Recycled and Lost Devices

Simply moving data to the recycling bin on the desktop doesn't make it disappear. If old electronics are to be sold or recycled and are still functional, they need to be cleaned with a good "hard disk wiping" program like DBAN that scours them to eliminate residual data. If you're simply disposing of an old drive, have it shredded. Don't forget that devices like copiers, printers, and old phones also have internal drives that store data!

Employees losing company phones or devices will happen from time to time, but you can secure against this mishap by mandating strong unique passwords for each device and two-step authentication for logins. It would also not hurt to encrypt data on devices that go out into the wild with a unique key that can be revoked later if they go missing.

 

  • Internal "Turncoat" Attacks

The toughest data security issue to deal with is the possibility of a trusted employee going rogue. Mitigation in this area primarily comes down to identifying privileged accounts and monitoring them appropriately, as well as removing credentials ASAP when such an employee leaves the company.

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.

Is Cloud Computing Right For Your Business?

In today's era of technology, having your data available on multiple servers and devices is important. Not only is it great for security purposes, but it's also an exercise in self-discipline. After all, your sensitive data is one of the most important aspects in the workplace. By keeping your info stored on the Internet, you're taking things seriously in the business. Speaking of which, what is cloud computing? Generally speaking, it means storing and accessing data over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive. Hence, as long as there's a device with Internet connection, you can easily access your data. With that said, even though many businesses have invested in the cloud, that doesn't mean every company needs to use it. Is cloud computing a right fit for your business? Here are a few questions you should ask.

#1. Is Your Information Secure?

Before investing in the cloud, you should consider whether your data is already secure or not. While it's true that cloud computing is one of the best methods for keeping your data secure, remember that most businesses invest in it in the first place, because their files aren't secure enough. Believe it or not, there are several other security methods if you feel the cloud isn't right for your business. Not only could you keep your data backed up through multiple servers, but have you considered using a USB flash drive as well? While some businesses don't use it due to the small size, it's efficient for keeping your files stored and secure. Not to mention that you can upload your files on to any computer in the workplace.

#2. Can Anyone In The Workplace Access Your Files?

Before investing in the cloud, you should also consider whether others can easily access your files or not. For example, are your files already locked behind a server with a secure password? If the answer is no, then cloud computing would be your best option. If the answer is yes, then your files are definitely more secure than you think. Overall, limiting access of your files from others is important, especially in the workplace. After all, many times, it's those in the workplace who might be looking to access your data. Lastly, remember that just because cloud computing is one of the best options for storing and securing your data, doesn't mean it's the only one.

#3. Are You Usually in the Office?

One reason many businesses invest in cloud computing, is because it gives them easier access to their data. Remember, because you can access your files from any device with Internet connection, this is a huge convenience for business owners who are always out of the office. For example, let's say there was a business owner who was always traveling. Obviously, they would need a way to access their files at all times, and the cloud greatly compensates for this. However, if you're a business owner who's always in the office, you wouldn't need constant access to your files.

Overall, these are some important questions when considering cloud computing. Check to see if your information is already secure enough, whether others can easily access your files, and if you're usually at your office computer.

For more information about how to decide whether the cloud is right for your business or not, feel free to contact us today at AbtechTechnologies. Our business offers a range of security products and services that will provide protection of your sensitive information and will augment business continuity by assessing compliance and overall security of your network. We look forward to hearing from you, and assisting you in the best way possible.

Top 5 Security Products and Services for IT Businesses

Security is always an important concept to consider for IT businesses. They are dealing with large volumes of sensitive information that is targeted by hackers and other malicious actors both inside and outside of the firm. Depending on the business, the value of this data could be millions of dollars or more. Spending to protect it is imperative as insurance against this loss. There are 5 products that are most important.

Vulnerability Assessment

All IT businesses need to be aware of the potential threats to their network. Without the initial understanding of the obvious and not so obvious threats, you will not know how to defend yourself. A vulnerability assessment determines all of the threats both outside and inside the network. At that point, a risk assessment report is created to highlight all of the potential issues and how they may be resolved. Companies use an end-to-end, point to point vulnerability assessment to get at their root risks.

In fact, certain organizations are required to conduct a vulnerability assessment. That includes publicly listed companies and also those medical companies that must comply with HIPAA requirements.

Penetration Testing

A Pen Test usually follows a vulnerability assessment. It includes a harmless payload that mimics a virus to attempt to infiltrate and disrupt a network. The payload acts in the same way a virus does to exploit vulnerabilities but does not actually cause any harm. This tests may identify problems that were not apparent in the risk assessment. This takes a little more time than the risk assessment but produces valuable insight from a real live test.

Malware Training

No matter how much software and equipment you purchase, there is always the more prosaic ways to infiltrate a network. By tricking an employee into voluntary downloading a malicious virus, a hacker can cause enormous damage. This was the case in the hacking of Sean Podesta (Hillary Clinton's chief advisor) and possibly also of Sony Pictures.

To avoid falling victim to these programs, employees should undergo extensive training sessions to learn about phishing, web links, public wifi and other potential vulnerabilities. Companies must establish strong programs to create a culture of safety.

Back-up Data

Managed cloud services providers must protect data from being wiped by malicious attackers. While excellent firewalls and anti-virus software does some of the work, keeping segregated data centers is another crucial tool. Cloud data has the advantage that it can be held in multiple locations, not simply in the hardware of the employees on site. For that reason, skilled cloud service providers can keep data in different locations so that even if the hacker is successful in infiltrating one storage center, they will need a new set of approvals to access the other one. Even better, if the first server is attacked, the other ones may automatically shut down to prevent further disaster.

Anti-Virus Software

Of course, the old stand-by is having anti-virus software installed on every computer, in the network and in the data center. Large companies such as McAffee, Kaspersky and Norton have successfully attracted large and small clients around the world. They keep a running tab on malicious software and quickly work to prevent them from damaging the hosts.

Corporate policy at virtually every large company in America instructs employees to keep their anti-virus software up to date. In fact, IT departments usually install and update these programs on the computers themselves. Without it, companies would be much more vulnerable.

Abtech Technologies provides a range of products and services to help IT businesses protect themselves. The company has helped large and small companies all the way to Fortune 500 firms to upgrade their defenses and protect themselves from hackers. For more information, please contact us.

 

Is Your IBM hardware reaching End Of Service (EOS) -IBM Support?

Is Your IBM hardware reaching End Of Service (EOS) -IBM Support?

It's that time of year again..... What time of year, you ask?

It is the time of year that you are receiving (or not receiving) notifications that IBM support and service will no longer be offered to you and your company on a range of products. This is hardly ever good news because it means you will have to do something about it, and whatever "it" is, is most likely going to cost money... 

IBM’s end of service life notifications for the models below

·         IBM P7

·         IBM S20

·         IBM JS21 blades

·         IBM RS/6000

·         IBM Power i5

·         IBM Flex

·         IBM P6

·         IBM Websphere

This happens twice a year. Effective EOS dates are usually April 30th and September 30th. Hopefully you do receive a notice that your software or equipment is reaching its EOS date. Usually they will give you a month or two to plan for it and give you two choices:

1. Upgrade to a newer version or release.  

2. Purchase a support extension

What they don't usually tell you is that there is a third option that is usually better for businesses like yours:

3. Use a third-party IBM support company

In most cases, 3rd party support is a good option. 3rd party IBM support providers, like Abtech Technologies, can provide high quality hardware maintenance to extend the life of IBM products. Abtech Technologies has a dedicated and experienced staff that is very knowledgeable about IBM products and offer best in class software management and support. Abtech Technologies also has a large inventory of replacement parts for IBM hardware. 

 

 

 

Preparing For Disaster in the Workplace

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When you're in the workplace, one of the keys to having a successful business, is planning ahead at all times. For example, not only do you need to have a business goal for your company, but contingency plans are important as well. Nothing is ever set in stone, so you might need to make adjustments to your end plan. For example, what if your sales goal didn't end up as expected? This is why you should always be prepared.

With that said, while many companies do prepare for these unexpected events, they often don't take disasters into consideration. Planning for unexpected disasters, such as a power failure, is crucial for keeping your business safe, among other things. Speaking of which, how should businesses prepare for these incidents? After all, each disaster in the workplace can't be dealt with in the same way, and some require more drastic measures. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

#1. Educate Your Employees

It's one thing if you're prepared for disaster, but what about your employees? It's essential to remember that teamwork plays a key role in all this. What someone else does in the workplace, could have a major impact on the entire company, for better or worse. As an example, let's say you were familiar with the dangers of ransomware, and how to avoid it. Your employees, on the other hand, weren't knowledgeable. You had better teach them the basics, or they might end up making a careless mistake. Preparing for disaster isn't just about you, everyone in the business needs to know their part as well.

#2. Plan For Each Disaster

Initially, this might seem like a lot of work, but that's not necessarily the case. You don't need to create a plan for every disaster, but you should know how to handle each incident. As I had mentioned earlier, each disaster in the workplace can't be handled in the same way. As an example, let's make a comparison between a power failure and a natural disaster. For the former, all you'd have to do is make sure your info is backed up on a regular basis, particularly via cloud computing. A method that allows you to store your information virtually, even the most severe incidents would have no impact on your data. For the latter, however, it's a different case. Considering natural disasters could have an impact on your building, you need to have a plan that goes beyond storing your data. If there's a hurricane, are you moving your equipment to higher ground? Do you have another building to transfer your data to? These are some things to keep in mind.

#3. Cloud Computing

Of all the ways to prepare for disaster, cloud computing is easily the most effective. As I had mentioned before, this method allows you to store all data virtually, and it becomes accessible on any device with Internet connection. Whether you fall victim to ransomware, or end up spilling coffee on your keyboard, these disasters will have no effect on your virtually accessed info. Even more so, use cloud computing is also an exercise in keeping your data backed up on a regular basis. Many businesses are too laid back about their files, keeping everything on their desktop, and sometimes even backing everything up at the last-minute. Cloud computing is a smart decision, because it allows you to focus on other aspects of your business, without always having to worry about worst case scenarios.

For more information about preparing for disaster in the workplace, as well as the importance of disaster recovery as a service, feel free to contact us today at Abtech Technologies. We offer a range of security products that not only protect your sensitive information, but also assess compliance and overall security of your network. We look forward to hearing from you, and assisting you in the best way possible.

Dell EMC's Current Positioning and Product Portfolio

Dell's acquisition of EMC Corporation was the largest tech buyout in history. The primary focus of it was to position Dell as a leader in the emerging "Internet of Things" market, or smart connected devices ranging from household appliances to vehicles.

Dell EMC – Future Direction for Mid-Range Storage

Dell EMC – Future Direction for Mid-Range Storage

Dell and EMC became one company, Dell Technologies, on September 7th, 2016.  This made it the largest data center infrastructure supplier in the world.  It also brought together a wide range of different and in some cases, competing storage technologies.

What does this mean to current Dell and EMC storage customers and what does the future roadmap look like.  As a Dell and EMC partner, Abtech has been given first hand access to this information and our engineers have also given their viewpoint on which technology fits which application.

Unity and SC (Compellent) – The way forward.

Dell has been putting much more emphasis on its SC range of storage arrays recently. The SC4020 and the new SCv2000 range are both aimed squarely at the affordable end of the midmarket for block and file storage applications.  For larger environments, the new SC7000 and SC9000 platforms will scale in terms of both capacity and performance.

EMC has recently released its new Unity platform of unified storage.  Designed entirely from the ground up, Unity offers a solution for both block and file data in a single array platform that is easy to configure and manage.  Unity is best suited to customers with mixed block and file storage requirements and those that require maximum scalability (up to 10PB).

Here is an excerpt from the midrange storage presentation at DellEMC World, which shows how DellEMC is positioning the two platforms:

SC and Unity.png

 

The following table compares the maximum specs and features of the two platforms currently:

Legacy Dell EqualLogic Customers

The PS-Series platform is still available but Dell has made no secret that it is moving customers to the SC platform.  The SCv2000 and SC4020 series are priced competitively and offer future-proof options to replace legacy EqualLogic arrays. The SC interface is similar to the current PS (EqualLogic) series and replication between PS and SC is now available.  This makes migration and training less of an issue for existing Dell customers.  Dell has also introduced a number of discount programs through their channel partners to incentivize EqualLogic PS customers to upgrade to SC Series. 

 

Legacy PowerVault Storage Customers

As with the PS-series customers, PowerVault customers are encouraged to look at the entry level SC storage.  The PowerVault will continue to be made available and is still the platform of choice for low cost, but high performance, scalable storage.  However, the SC series will eventually take over this role and customers should consider this route to be completely future proofed. Channel only promotions are currently available on additional trays for PowerVault MD arrays including flash configurations. 

 

Legacy EMC VNX and VNXe Customers

The VNX and VNXe have been EMC’s mid-range platforms for several years. They offer a wide range of controllers options and both SAN and NAS capabilities.  However, EMC took the decision to completely re-engineer the platform to create Unity.  Like customers on the Dell side, legacy VNX and VNXe customers should consider the new Unity platform if they are looking to refresh their storage.   

Please call Abtech on 1-800-474-7397 for more details or email: info@abtechtechnologies.com

Dell EMC UNITY - NEW All Flash Storage Array

Dell EMC UNITY - NEW All Flash Storage Array

The Future is Flash.... All Flash

Dell's new merger with EMC has been widely talked about and anticipated, but it is finally here. The market seems to be extremely optimistic about this merger. These two companies coming together might be the "Dawn of a new age" in the world of IT end-users. If you want to read more about the merger go here.

One of the things that is an exciting step forward is the release and promotion of Dell EMC UNITY! It is a all flash storage array.

If you want to check out the EMC page on Unity, go here.

“EMC Unity offers modern data center simplicity and all-flash performance in an affordable package. Designed specifically to get the most out of all-flash media, EMC is making it simpler and more affordable for both SMEs and enterprises to modernize their data centers. With the launch of Unity, 2016 is truly the year of all-flash for EMC.”

- Jeff Boudreau, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mid-Range Solutions, Core Technologies Division at EMC

To summarize the features and benefits of this new array we must start with performance.

Performance

Compared to past HDD, UNITY's all SSD can deliver far superior performance with 300 IOPS. It also has features like: (EMC.com)

True dual-active controller architecture
Support for file, block and VVols
Snapshots and remote sync/async replication
Native, controller-based encryption
New scalable file-system for transactional and traditional file use cases
VMware VASA 2.0, VAAI, VVols, VMware- Aware Integration
Complete REST-API for automation and DevOps use cases
Integrated Copy Data Management with EMC iCDM
Zero-impact garbage collection

Adaptability:

Purpose built -  Unity is purpose built for all flash data centers but it can also be deployed in hybrid environments. This allows for companies to make the transition to all flash data center, without having to do it all at once.

Software Defined - UnityVSA™ is capable of file and block storage  and data management features that allow Unity to be deployed easily as a virtual machine.

Convergence -  VCE ® Vblock™ and VxBlock™ System 350 are available with Unity as well. EMC really focused on convergence capability. Now you can take up less rack space and get more performance.

Unity provides incredible unified storage density, with up to 80TB of all-flash storage in a dense, 2U array. - EMC.com

Affordability:

All flash Array starting at $18,000

Hybrid Model starting at $10,000

We feel that this price point is on the higher side of accurate, but you get what you pay for when you go all flash. We really can't argue with the performance capabilities and feel there is "solid" value in the SSD Unity array.

Availability:

If you are looking to purchase Unity, make sure you are going through the right source. Unity can only be sold through EMC partners. It is best you go through a partner that has a lasting relationship with Dell and EMC. In the near future, that relationship could mean big savings for you.

In addition, make sure your partner has the consultation capabilities needed to properly assess your environment and give you options that will be best in the long-run.

 

Abtech Technologies is a trusted partner of Dell and EMC. We have access to highly competitive pricing and promotions that are only available to partners. We also have a staff that is knowledgeable and experienced with engineers with over 25 years of experience. Abtech Technologies can provide valuable consulting and a solution at an affordable price. We want to make sure that your solution is as unique as the needs of your business.

Abtech Introduces Dell's Latest Data Protection Products

Dell Recently introduced a series of new products and enhancements to its Data Protection portfolio. This article details the main features of these products and explains how Abtech has already integrated them into our StorTrust Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery Services portfolio.

 

Dell Rapid Recovery (rebranded AppAssure)

This is a free upgrade for all existing Dell AppAssure customers with valid support contracts.  Key new features are:

  • ZeroImpact recovery of systems, applications and data across physical, virtual and cloud environments
  • Rapid Snap for Applications snapshots physical or virtual environments up to every five mins
  • Rapid Snap for Virtual offers agent-less protection of VMware VMs

The key away here is that Rapid Recovery offers both agent-based and agentless (Rapid Snap) backup functionality.  The agentless option is only available for VMware VMs at first release, although support for other platforms are planned with later releases.

This gives VMware users the option to choose the backup solution that best fits their environment. 

Dell Endpoint Recovery - Free Edition

  • Endpoint backup for single user Windows clients
  • Includes file deduplication and compression
  • Set and forget client device protection scheme

This adds free endpoint backup and recovery to the AppAssure/Rapid Recovery product for customers with Windows desktops and laptops.

NetVault Backup 11

  • Enterprise Windows client deployment manager with automated install for up to 1,000 clients
  • Multi-streaming capability to split backups into smaller, simultaneously executed chunks to increase performance
  • Restartable VMware backups so users pick up where a job left off

Dell DR4300e, DR4300 and DR6300 appliances.  

  • Faster DR series deduplication appliances with higher capacity.
  • DR4300e has up to 27TB usable capacity and 21TB/hour ingest rate
  • DR4300 with up to 108TB usable capacity and 23TB/hour ingest rate
  • DR6300 has up to 360TB usable capacity and a 29TB/hour ingest rate

This is useable capacity after deduplication and compression so these appliances can potentially support backup capacities into the petabytes. 

The new DR appliances still include free source-side deduplication, compression and replication as part of all-inclusive capacity licensing.

The DR4300e, DR4300 and DR6300 can act as backup targets for 16 backup applications:

  • Amanda
  • AppAssure (archive only)
  • ArcServe Backup
  • Atempo TimeNavigator
  • Bridgehead
  • CommVault Simpana
  • EMC Networker
  • HP DataProtector
  • IBM Tivoli Storage Manager
  • Microsoft Data Protection Manger (DPM)
  • NetVault Backup
  • Oracle RMAN
  • Veeam
  • Veritas Backup Exec
  • Veritas NetBackup
  • vRanger

The DR4300e entry-level box is a 2U enclosure with 12 x 3.5-inch disk drives available in 4.5TB (67.5TB logical) and 9TB post-RAID (135TB logical) capacities. A single 4.5TB or 9TB (raw) expansion shelf can be added

The DR4300 uses 2 or 4TB HDDs, which add up to 33 per cent more capacity than the previous DR4100. The 2U rack-mounted system is available in raw capacities of 18 and 36 TB. You can expand capacity with up to two PowerVault MD expansion shelves in 18, and 36 TB capacities, for a total of 108 TB usable (1.6PB logical) capacity.

The DR6300 comes in four configs, all post-RAID: 18TB (270TB logical), 36TB (540TB logical), 54TB (810TB logical), and 72TB (1.08PB logical). Four expansion shelves can be added, with the same capacity options up to the maximum useable capacity of 360TB.

StorTrust Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery Support

The StorTrust cloud is fully compatible with Dell's new Rapid Recovery product providing a cloud replication target for any customer using Dell Rapid Recovery for local backup.  We also offer full disaster recovery spin up for Rapid Recovery in the cloud so users can keep working after a disaster occurs.  No additional software licensing is required.

StorTrust also offers a replication target for the Dell DR4300e, DR4300 and DR6300 appliances. Customers with DR appliances for local backup can replicate their data to StorTrust for off site backup. We also offer disaster recovery spin up capability for Dell vRanger, Dell NetVault and Veeam when backed up to the DR appliance.

For more information, please visit the StorTrust area of our web site or click on the enquiry form link below. 

www.abtechtechnologies.com/stortrust

Review of Dell Rapid Recovery - Storage Switzerland

Review of Dell Rapid Recovery - Storage Switzerland

Here is a review article by Storage Switzerland that outlines the benefits of using Dell Rapid Recovery (formerly Dell AppAssure) and features available in its latest release:

http://storageswiss.com/2016/03/10/addressing-modern-recovery-requirements/

Dell Rapid Recovery now offers agentless backup for VMware as well as its tried and tested agent-based backup.

In addition to being able to run recovery versions of a VM from the Rapid Recovery server, customers of Dell Rapid Recovery are able to run a recovery version of a VM in the Stortrust cloud.  This is regardless of whether the backed up system was a VMware VM, HyperV VM or a physical machine when it was backed up.  This makes it the ideal platform for business continuity.

 

Dell Strengthens Data Protection Portfolio with New Backup and Recovery Capabilities Spanning Client to Cloud

Dell Strengthens Data Protection Portfolio with New Backup and Recovery Capabilities Spanning Client to Cloud

  • Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery now generally available, leverages technology built for the cloud era for instant recovery of business critical systems, applications and data

  • New data deduplication appliance models deliver higher capacity, speed and performance

  • New free endpoint recovery solution offers simple, effective protection for Windows clients

February 25, 2016 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

ROUND ROCK, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dell today announced a series of new data protection solutions to help organizations better protect business-critical systems, applications, and data – either on premises or in the cloud. Offerings include: the general availability of Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery; three new data deduplication appliances models; new Dell Data Protection | Endpoint Recovery – Free Edition; and the new Dell Data Protection | NetVault Backup 11. These updates to the data protection product portfolio reinforce Dell’s commitment to driving innovation and giving customers the choice and flexibility they need to quickly address evolving backup and recovery needs as they move data and applications to the cloud.

Instant recovery for the cloud era with Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery, now available

Generally available today, Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery integrates proven and familiar features of AppAssure and other leading Dell IP to help eliminate downtime for customer environments. Customers can attain ZeroImpact recovery of systems, applications and data across physical, virtual and cloud environments. Rapid Snap for Applications technology takes snapshots of entire physical or virtual environments up to every five minutes. This gives users immediate access to data in the event of an incident and the power to restore in real time as if nothing ever happened. In addition, Rapid Snap for Virtual technology offers agentless protection of VMware VMs.

Backup more and store less with new DR series deduplication appliances

New releases to the award-winning Dell DR series of deduplication appliances include the new Dell DR4300e, DR4300 and DR6300. The new Dell DR appliances deliver increased capacity, speed and performance, enabling customers to backup more data and store less. Dell DR appliances leverage the industry’s first, free source-side deduplication capabilities to relieve network bandwidth congestion and boost ingest performance, ensuring that backups get completed on time, every time.

An ideal fit for mid-market organizations, the DR4300 delivers up to 108TB of usable capacity while ingesting up to 23TB of data per hour. The entry-level DR4300e is a smaller scale, low-cost appliance that can scale up to 27TB while offering all the features of the DR Series. With these offerings, small and mid-market organizations can now easily adopt enterprise-grade data deduplication capabilities that have traditionally been out of reach.
The DR63000 is a larger midmarket and small enterprise solution that delivers up to 360TB of usable capacity while ingesting up to 29TB of data per hour, delivering the scalability needed to support growing environments.

Built on the latest 13th generation Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell DR appliances support 16 of the industry’s leading backup applications and can easily be added to an existing data protection environment. Combining deduplication ratios from 15:1 up to 30:1 with a flexible, all-inclusive licensing model, Dell DR appliances deliver better performance at a lower cost than competing offerings.

Freemium protection and recovery for Windows clients

To help companies protect the growing volumes of data created by endpoint devices, Dell Data Protection | Endpoint Recovery – Free Edition will be available in a light-weight, easy-to-use software offering that gives customers a robust endpoint protection and recovery solution for Windows clients. A no-cost, set-and-forget client protection solution designed for a single user, the freemium offering provides file deduplication and compression to reduce storage costs and enables fast recovery of lost data.

Increase scalability and performance with Dell Data Protection | NetVault Backup v11

Dell NetVault Backup is a cross-platform, enterprise backup and recovery solution that offers one of the broadest spectrums of OS, application, and backup target support in the industry. Version 11 delivers the increased scalability and improved performance needed to simplify backup in even the most diverse and rapidly growing IT environments.

New features of Dell Data Protection | NetVault Backup 11 include:

Enterprise Windows client deployment manager that allows customers to target up to 1,000 clients for automated installation, increasing both efficiency and scalability.
High-performance file system multi-streaming capability that allows customers to break up backups into smaller, simultaneously executed chunks to increase performance.
Restartable VMware backups so users pick up where a job left off.

Strengthening a powerhouse portfolio

Dell Data Protection solutions deliver an unmatched depth and breadth of capabilities to help customers instantly restore the critical systems, data, and applications that power their businesses, even before the business knows they are down. More than 70,000 customers worldwide use Dell Data Protection solutions to protect everything from laptops, desktops, and tablets, to physical and virtual servers, to public and private cloud environments. All Dell Data Protection solutions are developed with a mid-market design point and are scalable, easy to use, and cost-effective. This allows organizations to spend less time worrying about whether their apps and data will be available, and more time focused on using them to innovate and transform the business.

Availability:

Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery is available now worldwide starting at $1,199 for new users. A free upgrade for current AppAssure license holders is also available.
The Dell DR 4300e, DR 4300 and DR6300 are available now worldwide. Pricing starts at $13,000 for the DR4300e, $43,000 for the DR4300, and $87,000 for the DR6300.
Dell Data Protection | Endpoint Recovery – Free Edition will be available worldwide beginning in early March.
Dell NetVault Backup 11 is available now worldwide starting as low as $1,265.

Supporting Quote:

Brett Roscoe, vice president, product management, Dell Systems and Information Management

“With the next generation of Data Protection solutions, Dell is committed to helping companies gain control of their IT environments, and protecting the applications and data that flows across the organization both on premises and in the cloud. These significant enhancements to the Dell Data Protection portfolio help organizations utilize the opportunities of cloud and build a future-ready infrastructure by ensuring they have instant access to systems, applications and data that run their businesses. From clients all the way to the cloud, Dell Data Protection solutions deliver a combination of performance, price and flexibility that no other vendor can match.”

Nigel Wright, vice president sales, enterprise solutions, Abtech Technologies

“As a channel partner in the cloud era, Abtech is committed to helping our customers deploy a data protection strategy that’s not only custom-built to the specific and constantly changing needs of their businesses, but also delivers protection that is scalable for future growth. The Dell data protection portfolio solutions enable us to do just that. Whether our customers are looking for instant recovery of critical systems and applications, protection for the growing wave of endpoint devices, or deduplication to control data growth and reduce storage needs, Dell has the solutions and the flexibility we need to find the best fit for our customers each and every time.”

Jason Buffington, principle analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

"Organizations of all sizes continue to look for better ways to protect their data and ensure the recoverability of their IT systems. This is especially true of midmarket companies, whose businesses are growing and infrastructures are evolving in real time as they move data and apps to the cloud. The Dell Data Protection portfolio of deduplication appliances and backup software solutions, including its newest release of new Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery, is designed to give their customers flexible options in order to meet the agility and efficiency needs that all businesses have.”

Supporting Resources:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dellsoftware
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dellsoftware
Dell Software YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/DellSoftwareVideo

Exchange Migration

Exchange Migration

The key to every upgrade or migration, no matter the application or process, is preparation. Proper preparation will eliminate complications once you are ready to flip the switch on your new deployment and avoid costly roll backs and downtime.  It is also important to have experience in doing such a migration.  If you don't have this experience on your staff, you should look to partner with a company that does. After you have finished your preparations you double check and then triple check them.

Keeping up to date with the latest version of Exchange is an important process, but it can be a daunting task, requiring extensive planning and careful implementation. Updating to a new version requires you to know the ins and outs of the new version and how it will interact with your existing environment. You also need to understand your existing Exchange environment and also how your users interact with it. Complications often arise during the implementation phase (If proper planning wasn’t done) and can  cause issues as small as an inconvenience to large scale outages.

Example Local Exchange Migrations:

 
  • Exchange 2003 to 2010 migration
  • Exchange 2007 to 2013 migration
  • Exchange 2007 to 2016 migration
  • Exchange 2010 to 2013 migration
  • Exchange 2010 to 2016 migration
 

Abtech has helped many of our customers migrate from older versions of Microsoft Exchange to newer versions, when Microsoft ends support. Our Microsoft Exchange migration consultants understand the process thoroughly and can apply best practice to ensure that the migration goes as smoothly as possible.  We have worked with customers with a few mailboxes to larger customers with several thousand users and complex Exchange configurations.

Exchange to Office365 Migrations

Cloud computing has advanced over the last 5 years in leaps and bounds. What used to be a costly service offering few features has turned into a way for a company to offload their entire infrastructure to someone with advanced capabilities already in place. For Exchange cloud services Office 365 stands above the rest, offering full Exchange capabilities, in a secure environment, where you don’t have to worry about upgrading to the latest version of Exchange or the costs of your growing company.

Example Office 365 Migrations:

 
  • Exchange 2003 to Office365 migration
  • Exchange 2007 to Office365 migration
  • Exchange 2010 to Office365 migration
  • Exchange 2013 to Office365 migration
 

If you have already decided on migrating to Office 365 and need help with moving your Exchange environment into the cloud, Abtech can help. No matter your existing Exchange version we can provide a staged migration process, to provide for minimal impact on your users. We also offer or a cutover migration to provide for zero downtime.  Migrating to Office 365 doesn’t have to be a headache.

Through proper preparation and the experience of 100’s of migrations, we can make your next migration smooth and hassle free. If you don’t have the time or experience, Abtech's Exchange experts can do the heavy lifting for you, doing a pre-migration assessment for your environment and the preparation needed to give you a seamless upgrade. We have the knowledge needed to track down all of the little things in a migration that prevent it from going smoothly, such as specialized send and receive connectors. After the plan has been finalized, we thoroughly test it to make sure that everything is in order. Once a preparation plan has been drafted and agreed upon, our engineers can complete the migration in accordance with your timeline and requirements, preventing downtime and failures from ever occurring.