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Hurricanes damage property and put lives at risk. If you’re not prepared, hurricanes can also disrupt your operations and put your business through extended downtime. In this blog, we’ll help you quickly regain access to your data and get your business back to operational mode after a disaster.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 miles per hour (as fast as Category 5 storms) and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage in case of floods.

Use image-based backups

Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in them. From there, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud

The cloud enables you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently

Back up your data as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (DR) plan

After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after a disaster. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during a hurricane, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

The cloud is currently a key player in transforming organizations and digitizing IT infrastructures. In the coming years, cloud solutions will be more accessible, agile, and competitive. This will drive more and more businesses to adopt cloud computing. But with many different types of services available, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your organization. To help, here is a rundown of the three most common cloud service models used by small- to medium-sized businesses.

1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Unlike software that you install on your computer, SaaS solutions are apps that are hosted on a provider’s servers. Easily the largest and most well known cloud-based service, SaaS uses the cloud to process app functions for users. That is, when a user opens a mobile or web browser app, the device merely sends inputs to a data center. The data center then processes the inputs and sends its outputs back to the user’s device.

Minimal to no processing is done on the user’s device itself. And for as long as users have an internet connection, they can access the software from any device, at any time.

With SaaS, your provider is responsible for software maintenance and updates. This allows all users will be using the same version of a particular software and get updates at the same time. As a business owner, this means that managing the software on all of your computers is not only easier but more affordable.

SaaS software solutions include office document creation suites, accounting software, email service, HR solutions, content management tools, customer relationship management systems, and more.

In a nutshell, SaaS is:

  • Available over the internet
  • Hosted on a remote server by a third-party provider
  • Scalable, with different tiers for small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses
  • Inclusive, offering security, compliance, and maintenance as part of the cost

2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS is primarily used by developers who need a virtual environment for developing and testing their own custom software or apps. This means developers don’t need to build and maintain their own infrastructure — which is comprised of networking devices, storage, servers, an operating system, and other necessary hardware and software — when developing applications, saving the firm time and money.

Most companies that utilize PaaS do so to either host or develop their own software solutions, or provide support for software used by employees. But while PaaS is gaining popularity with many small businesses, most won’t have firsthand interactions with this type of cloud.

In general, PaaS platforms are:

  • Accessible to multiple users
  • Scalable, as you can choose from various tiers of resources to suit the size of your business
  • Built on virtualization technology
  • Easy to run without extensive system administration knowledge

3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IaaS offers services such as pay-as-you-go storage, networking, and virtualization. The most popular and well-known type of IaaS is the virtual machine. This is a digital version of a computer or server that is accessed over the internet. IaaS gives users cloud-based alternatives to expensive on-premises infrastructure so businesses can use their funds to invest in other things.

In other words, if you are looking to virtualize your systems via the cloud, IaaS is a good place to start. It allows you to move existing support systems into the cloud. Other solutions can then be migrated or introduced as needed.

IaaS is essentially:

  • Highly flexible and scalable
  • Accessible by multiple users
  • Cost-effective

While the cloud offers a wide variety of benefits and solutions, choosing the service which is best for your company’s needs can be tedious. To ease this burden, get in touch with us today. We’ll you find the best solution your business needs, ensure proper migration and implementation allowing you to focus on running your business.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Small- and medium-sized businesses are adopting cloud technologies. However, some business owners may not be aware of certain hidden costs. These costs don’t seem much at first, but they can eventually snowball. Follow these five tips to keep the cloud from breaking the bank.

No standalones

Cloud services come in various shapes and sizes, many of which are standalone platforms with rates that increase over time. Opt for a cloud service provider that offers a suite of products that all work together. It is often less expensive than a group of standalone products. Another benefit of working with a cloud provider is that you receive a single point of contact to resolve your issues quickly and effectively.

Experience matters

If you plan on integrating a standalone cloud service into your system, make sure you hire an experienced integration consultant to facilitate a smooth transition. Integration mishaps can cause serious downtime and cost a lot of money.

Backups are important

Unnecessary or inefficient backups waste cloud storage space. Review your cloud storage data by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How many versions of this data do I need to store long-term? The more versions I store, the more it’ll cost me.
  • What regulatory demands do I need to meet? Some data may need to be accessible for up to three years, whereas other data can be deleted after 30 days.
  • How quickly do I need to access my backups? If it can wait for a day or two, I can archive that data to a less expensive service or offline at the provider’s data center.

Remove users

Many cloud service providers charge by the number of users in your system. If you neglect to regularly manage the list of users, you’ll end up paying for people who no longer work for you. Implement processes that remove users when they leave the company and consider scheduling a regular audit. Ideally, conduct an audit once every six months to ensure your cloud user list is up to date.

Monitor proactively

Ask your cloud provider whether they can proactively monitor your account and notify you of potential issues before they escalate into major problems. This is especially important if you have a pay-as-you-go license that charges based on resource or storage consumption.

Utilizing the right technology resources is vital to your business’s success, and so is knowing how to prevent such resources from racking up an overwhelming monthly bill. If you wish to enjoy all the benefits of cloud computing without breaking the bank, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

In April 2020, Microsoft launched Microsoft 365, the successor to its popular Office 365. But it’s not a mere name change. The tech giant is also introducing improvements to its productivity software that will enhance how your business deals with cyberthreats every day.

Name change

Microsoft has time and again shown that they are willing to make drastic changes to their products and services in the name of development. Their Windows 10 operating system (OS), for instance, is a far cry from its predecessor Windows 8. Microsoft made the jump from what they thought would be a revolutionary tile-based design in Windows 8 to a classic, ergonomically designed Windows 10.

The tech giant has once again made drastic changes, this time to their award-winning line of productivity apps Microsoft Office 365. O365, as it was lovingly referred to for nearly a decade, is now the sleeker, more powerful, Microsoft 365 Business.

Microsoft 365 Business is available to small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) on three different subscription plans: Business Basic, Business Standard, and Business Premium.

Available plans

MICROSOFT 365 BUSINESS BASIC

Microsoft 365 Business Basic comes with many standard features, including web and mobile app access, full email and calendaring tools, secure file storage, collaboration tools, and support. Rest easy knowing that you have a powerful enterprise-grade software for a fraction of the cost such as:

  • Web and mobile app versions of Office apps
  • Real-time coauthoring
  • Email hosting with 50 GB capacity
  • 1 TB of OneDrive storage
  • Automatic syncs regardless of work platform choice (between OneDrive and SharePoint).
  • Teleconferencing and unified communications via Microsoft Teams for up to 250 users
  • Automatic threat defense via Exchange Online Protection
  • A complete array of cybersecurity tools and protocols, such as automated password policy tools

MICROSOFT 365 BUSINESS STANDARD

With the Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan, you’ll get everything Business Basic offers plus:

  • Desktop versions of Office apps for up to five PCs or Macs per user
  • Easy and smart appointments management with Microsoft Bookings
  • Real-time mileage tracking and reporting with MileIQ

MICROSOFT 365 BUSINESS PREMIUM

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is the brand’s flagship plan, a great tool for businesses ready to take their operations to the next level. It comes with everything Business Standard offers plus:

  • Advanced security tools to protect from zero-day threats and ransomware, via Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
  • Remote wiping tools for stolen or lost devices, via Selective Wipe from Intune
  • Restricted copying or saving options for unauthorized apps and locations
  • Complete control of company data, via Information Rights Management
  • Pre-breach threat resistance policy options, via Windows Defender Exploit Guard
  • Malware protection, via Windows Defender
  • Unlimited cloud archiving of emails, via Exchange Online Archiving
  • Setup wizards for Windows 10, iOS, and Android
  • Total security policy deployment — even for mobile apps — via Mobile Device Management from Intune

Microsoft 365 Business will change the way your staff powers your business. Contact us today to discuss how you can avail of a subscription.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

IT services are more critical than ever before, proving their value in the face of a health crisis and the abrupt shift to remote working. Here are some ways managed IT services providers (MSPs) are helping small companies leverage technology to support their remote teams and go about business as usual.

Providing infrastructure and service desk capabilities

In today’s digital work landscape, MSPs are keeping their noses to the grindstone to fulfill customer demands and help keep businesses running. While many small companies have taken the first step of transitioning to remote work, they still need help managing the logistics.

Right now, MSPs are providing customers with IT infrastructures and taking on a host of network tasks, including configuring hardware, establishing remote connections, and managing backup and storage options, among other activities. These all help to ensure that company networks are reliable enough to facilitate a remote workforce.

MSPs are also offering service desk capabilities, providing companies with a centralized resource for employees, customers, and business partners to answer questions, troubleshoot problems, and facilitate solutions. Appropriate and timely support is crucial, especially in times of great uncertainty.

Simplifying cloud adoption

Cloud solutions are ideal if IT environments must be quickly modified to meet changing demands or difficulties, which is why MSPs are now helping businesses leverage a variety of cloud technologies and even move their data and applications online.

And because cloud migration can get complex, many MSPs are also offering managed migration plans that help companies transition key workflows and processes to the cloud safely and efficiently.

Offering remote support where possible

The current travel restrictions and social distancing measures make work-related travel difficult and risky. And with highly distributed workforces, many companies would rather source local service technicians for break/fix assistance, cabling, and other IT solutions.

Partnering with MSPs ensures that systems and networks are protected all the time and critical support is provided within 24 hours. What’s even better is that some providers have technicians in different locations, making it easy to provide tools, resources, and support even in hard-to-reach areas.

Delivering flexible solutions

As business needs continue to shift, MSPs must move in lockstep and provide support wherever they can. Here are some other ways MSPs are helping their clients navigate these trying times:

Assisting with IT projects
Because of how broad and challenging IT projects can be, it’s not uncommon for companies to lack the right skills and resources to handle them. MSPs are helping them by providing the expertise and technologies needed to pursue these projects, allowing companies to keep moving forward.

Foregoing long-term contracts
Some companies need IT support and services but can’t afford to commit to long-term contracts. Similarly, some want to augment their IT only for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s great is many MSPs are providing flexible IT solutions, giving customers all the services and support they need, when they need them.

Offering faster response times
Especially now that downtime could likely spell the end of a business, companies seek quick turnaround times. Since MSPs typically offer 24/7 support and tout specialists with a wide range of experience and knowledge, they can proactively address issues and ensure that IT infrastructures are working as efficiently as possible.

Providing better customer service

As many businesses are still adjusting to the new normal, providing positive customer experiences will go a long way to earning trust and ensuring customer loyalty post-crisis. By being compassionate and empathetic to the situations of their customers, MSPs are showing companies that they’re navigating these trying times together.

Call our IT experts today to help configure the perfect remote work setup for your business.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Over the past several years, the debate about cloud technology in business has moved away from “Is it a safe option?” to “How can I move more of my tools to the cloud?” There is an overwhelming number of options and many business owners don’t know where to start. If that’s the position you find yourself in, we recommend starting with six basic tools.

Email

Every business needs email. And while there are plenty of non-cloud options to choose from, they require a lot of maintenance. Opting for cloud-based email means you pay for the service without worrying about hardware requirements or software updates. These issues, among others, will be handled by the provider and backed by service level guarantees.

File storage

Storing company files in the cloud is a great way to give employees more mobility and flexibility. Everyone can access information from almost any internet-enabled device without compromising security, since providers include things like encryption and multi-factor authentication as part of the monthly service fee.

You can opt for either DIY cloud storage such as Microsoft’s OneDrive and Dropbox or a slightly more expensive managed solution that will provide customization opportunities and regulatory compliance management.

Document creation and collaboration

It’s easy to confuse apps like Office 365 and Google Docs with cloud file storage but they’re not the same. What sets them apart is whether or not you can edit documents stored on these platforms. In most cases, multiple users can alter the same document simultaneously and see mirror images on their screens even if they’re hundreds of miles apart.

Between faster document turnaround times and fewer separate versions of files, there’s no reason to keep everything offline. Business owners used to worry about security but vendors today invest 100 times more resources in protecting client info than a small operation could ever match.

Server hosting

Whether your business requires a single low-scale server or several high-powered ones, it’s becoming harder to justify maintaining those at your physical location. They’re too finicky and expensive compared to their cloud alternatives.

Server hosting enables you to accomplish via an app all that you could with in-house hardware. The costs are also spread out month to month rather than all at once during the setup phase.

Backup and recovery

The entire basis of cloud technology is that you have total access to hardware and software that’s located far from your office. That makes things like cloud file storage and server hosting perfect for recovering from a disaster. If a natural disaster or cyberattack renders your office inoperable, all you need to do is log in to your cloud platform from somewhere else.

If you are looking to move your business into the cloud, we have a broad range of products tailored to small businesses.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE