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Transition to Outsourcing Business IT Support and Management

Technology is quickly and continuously evolving, transforming how companies operate. Keeping pace is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage, but not all enterprises, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), can afford it. That’s where Business IT support comes in.

By working closely with an established managed services provider, enterprises of all sizes can quickly adapt and compete in a rapidly changing technological landscape. This approach also frees up staff to concentrate on core business outcomes.

In this post, we’ll dive into what outsourcing IT support really is and how to figure out if you need it.

What Is IT Support?

Outsourcing business IT support describes the process of hiring a third-party provider to manage your technology infrastructure, devices, users, and services, including systems administration, network support, and helpdesk services.

A professional managed IT services provider will handle all the IT protocols integral to enterprise operations and ensure seamless processes across departments and hierarchies (with little to no downtime).

While every managed support services provider offers different services, most provide the following:

  • Authentication
  • Data centre, storehouse, and warehouse management
  • Data backup and retention
  • General management and support services
  • IT security
  • Helpdesk services
  • Network management, monitoring, and security
  • Process execution and enforcement
  • Systems administration

The primary advantages of outsourcing your IT support function are immediate access to cutting-edge technology and top tech talent access. Companies also access significant cost savings, mitigate risk, and ensure uninterrupted uptime by outsourcing their IT operations.

Do you need to outsource your business IT support function? The answer to this question depends on the following:

You Need Access to the Latest Technologies

If you need access to the latest technologies but can’t afford the capital expenses that go with it, managed services enable access to cutting-edge technology cost-effectively. What’s more, you won’t have to bother with the setup, deployment, management, or maintenance (as it’ll all be outsourced).

Your support services provider will also ensure that you have the latest hardware and software. They will also help you manage the hardware end of life scenarios safely and resourcefully.

You Need Access to Top Tech Talent

If you can’t afford to compete in a highly competitive labour market, again, an IT support services provider can help fill the skills gap. This approach can help augment or extend in-house teams, or you can outsource all your IT support requirements.

This approach helps businesses plan, strategize, and scale their operations efficiently. Outsourcing models have historically helped businesses tackle existing labour constraints cost-effectively. Going forward, expect this process to become critical in a highly digitised world.

You Need Enhanced IT Security

Maintaining security and compliance is a monumental task that demands specialised skills and automation. In the current threat landscape, bad actors are relentlessly attacking enterprise systems. To stay a step ahead of threat actors, you have to identify and rectify potential vulnerabilities in real-time (with 24/7 monitoring, blocking, patching, updates, and more).

As everyone is now a live target, SMBs and corporations alike can access expert cybersecurity services through managed IT services. This approach ensures peace of mind as your outsourcing partner will work to keep your brand out of the headlines.

You Need to Increase Efficiency

Let’s face it. We can’t do it all by ourselves without the necessary resources. If you do, you’ll end up losing time, money, and (in a worst-case scenario) a data breach. Every company has heaps of stuff going on at any given moment, so managed IT services providers make it all manageable and help boost operational efficiency.

Even better, your managed services partner will accelerate the research, development, and implementation to make the transition to outsourcing business IT support painless.

To find out if your business can benefit from outsourcing IT support, schedule a commitment-free consultation.

META: Outsourcing business IT support helps Australian businesses ensure efficiency and business continuity. But do you need to make the transition? Learn more.

Can Managed Services Reduce Total IT Cost?

Enterprises of all sizes have to contend with capital and cyclical expenses. These expenses relate to accounting, business processes, business IT support, development, helpdesk services, and much more. In this scenario, managed services providers help fill the skills gaps, enhance efficiencies, and reduce costs.

What started in the manufacturing sector has grown exponentially across the technology vertical. Today, companies can take advantage of asset and resource allocation management, IT support, and even software as a service (SaaS) models specifically designed to minimise capital expenditure.

Cutting IT costs through managed services depends on the organisation and business model. Sometimes companies are equipped to handle IT operations internally, efficiently, and cost-effectively. But most often, small and medium-sized businesses find that they can’t keep up with the rapid evolution of technology.

Whenever this is the case, enterprises benefit from outsourcing some or all IT operations to a managed IT services provider.

Let’s take a quick look at how managed services help reduce total IT costs:

1. Reduce IT infrastructure Costs

Setting up your own enterprise IT infrastructure demands massive investment in both hardware and software (and let’s not forget personnel). For example, when businesses leverage managed IT services and move to the cloud, they immediately access substantial savings.

They don’t have to invest in an in-house data centre, and they don’t have to pay for prohibitive expenses like power, cooling, software, storage, security, and more. What’s more, the cloud services provider will provide network support, systems administration and will keep track of hardware and software updates.

The best part of managed infrastructure services is the fact that you’ll never have to worry about updating your hardware and software ever again. Your business IT support services provider will ensure that you’re always working with the latest technologies. Sometimes they will also offer software like Office 365 at a discounted rate.

2. Reduce Operational Costs

Deploying IT infrastructure is one thing. Maintaining it is another. The maintenance of robust enterprise infrastructure requires a dedicated team of experts to oversee it daily. Maintenance costs are also unpredictable. You never know how much time and money it’s going to cost to resolve a problem.

Managed IT services help eliminate surprises down the road and provide maintenance and security services at a fixed cost (monthly or yearly). With the help of cutting-edge tools and experienced professionals, your outsourcing partner will monitor the infrastructure 24/7, engage in regular backup and retention, and minimise the risk of downtime by resolving potential problems in real-time (saving you thousands of dollars).

3. Reduce Human Resources Costs

Software engineers and technology professionals are in high demand and don’t come cheap. This makes hiring and retaining a full-scale IT support team will be expensive.

The ongoing tech talent shortage in Australia also makes attracting IT professionals much more challenging. If you manage to hire some engineers, you also have to consider training costs, benefits, and overhead expenses (to keep them on-premises).

Often, IT departments are overwhelmed with mundane and manual work like maintenance or fixing minor issues. When managed IT support services take on this responsibility, your staff is free to focus on what’s important, your business, and your customers.

This approach goes a long way to streamline processes, improve operational efficiency, and boost productivity. Happy employees are also easier to retain in a highly competitive labour market.

When companies are supported effectively by business IT support services, they can invest more in core business teams. This means that you’ll be able to add more qualified personnel, allowing you to scale without resource-related bottlenecks.

Managed services help reduce total IT costs. It’s just like renting or leasing an office space for a few years rather than buying the whole building. You also don’t have to deal with expenses related to infrastructure depreciation, hiring costs, or worry about creating additional space for new employees.

Are you looking for a managed IT services provider to enhance operational efficiencies, improve productivity, and cut total IT costs? We can help, schedule a commitment-free consultation now.

What Is the Real Value of IT Managed Services?

In an age where data is just as good as gold, robust IT support is critical to enhance operational efficiencies and avert potential data breaches and disruptions. But in a highly competitive marketplace, enterprises find it both difficult and costly to manage on their own, so it makes sense that many turn to managed IT services.

Today, IT managed services are at the heart of digitally transformed businesses. When companies partner with an established managed IT services provider, they get immediate access to cutting-edge technology and professional expertise (that’s often out of reach), cost-effectively.

What Is IT Managed Services?

IT managed services describes the practice of outsourcing secondary IT functions and processes to a third-party provider. This approach helps organisations concentrate on their primary tasks while drastically improving efficiencies and cutting costs.

For example, a Systems Administrator in Canberra commands an average salary of $85,000 per year (not including the costs of benefits like healthcare, paid time off, and more). But with IT managed services, companies can refocus their capital and other resources and concentrate on their core businesses.

Based on service level agreements, companies can focus on their customers without worrying about systems administration, helpdesk services, maintenance, network support, updates, upgrades, and security.

What Are the Key Benefits of Managed Support Services?

There are several direct, and indirect benefits to signing up with a managed IT services provider. In this post, we’ll explore the top four advantages of partnering with a managed IT services provider:

1. Access to Cutting-Edge Technology

When you sign up for business IT support, you avoid expenses related to hardware and software upgrades. With enterprise infrastructure deployed in a state-of-the-art data centre, you can rest assured that your data is safe, secure, and always available.

You won’t have to hire a team to assemble technology products, pay for training, and so on.  A managed support services provider will be equipped with the right infrastructure to start the project immediately.

It’s the most effortless and cost-effective approach to staying up to date with the latest technology. IT support services also ensure that small and medium-sized businesses compete on par with corporate giants.

2. Enhanced Efficiency and Improved Proficiency

When your staff is free to focus on core business tasks, there’s an opportunity to boost productivity with lower downtimes and reduced lead times. Employees are also better placed to identify new opportunities and create new revenue streams.

With highly experienced IT professionals just a click or call away, you’ll avoid significant disruptions and ensure compliance and business continuity.

3. Lower Risks and Robust Security

Ensuring regulatory compliance, privacy, and IT security is getting more complicated by the second. In the current threat landscape, expertise and experience mean everything.

For example, your support services provider will boast significant knowledge and expertise to deploy robust security protocols and secure your infrastructure in real-time. You’ll also benefit from their wealth of experience securing similar enterprise IT infrastructure.

Your business IT support services provider will also secure your business with the latest security tools. For example, if you have a payment gateway operating on your system, they will help ensure compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI/DSS). They can also help with training exercises to mitigate the risk of human error.

4. Save Time and Money

When you partner with an established IT support services provider, you’ll have a clear idea about your IT spend (whether it’s on a monthly or yearly basis). This amount will be significantly lower than hiring an in-house support team, which comes with additional overheads like benefits, office space, training, and more.

With managed support services, you decide your contract terms and pay for only what you need. Furthermore, you avoid situations like the sudden need for capital expenditure to update and upgrade your technology infrastructure.

Your business IT support services partner will breakdown these expenses into fixed, manageable monthly, quarterly, or yearly payments and ensure seamless upgrades with little to no downtime.

As you’re always getting immediate access to the brightest minds in the business, you’ll also save time (with fewer breakdowns and troubleshooting exercises).

There are plenty more advantages to outsourcing your enterprise IT function. To learn more about IT managed services, schedule commitment-free consultation.

What Are Managed Services in the IT Industry?

Managed Services Providers (MSPs) offer a wide range of technology services following a subscription model. This approach eliminates initial capital expenses and ensures immediate access to cutting-edge technology, cost-effectively.

Originally designed to help corporations outsource some of their operations to boost efficiency and cut costs, managed services are now accessible to small and medium-sized businesses.

But before we go any further, let’s first define it.

What are Managed Services?

Managed services describe the process of outsourcing certain functions (like back-office processes) to enable efficiency and optimise costs. As it gets harder for small businesses to access the expertise they need, things like managed helpdesk services and support services are quickly becoming the norm.

Whenever enterprises adopt this approach, they get an external dedicated team of experts assigned to handle specific tasks and a team leader who is accountable for the services rendered.

When you partner with an MSP, you essentially free up your staff and resources to focus on your primary operations and what’s really important–your business.

As this industry vertical evolves, Managed IT services have grown to offer services like cloud hosting, real-time monitoring, maintenance, and more. This approach helps organisations fill the skills and technology gaps while ensuring business continuity and regulatory compliance.

In this scenario, managed services don’t just help enhance operational efficiency through technology adoption but also control expenditure and mitigate risk.

What Kind of Services Does an MSP Provide?

MSPs today offer a wide array of services. However, it’s important to note that all service providers won’t provide the same kinds of services. Some might provide all the services listed below, while others might just offer a handful of services. Some might only offer business IT support.

Managed Data Analytics

Data is the underlying force that drives digitally transformed companies forward. Managed data analytics services help companies access business intelligence technologies, data management and analytics tools, and real-time monitoring services.

Managed Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud infrastructure management is widespread, especially in a post-pandemic world. Managed cloud infrastructure services providers help manage cloud computing protocols, operating systems, data storage, software, and more. Some even provide virtualisation services for apps.

Managed Communication Services

Managed communication services or managed unified communication services provide extensive communication capabilities for a monthly (or annual) fee. For example, a managed communication services provider may deploy communications infrastructure to enable instant messaging, VoIP (voice over internet protocol), and video. Some MSPs also provide third-party call centre services.

Managed Network Support

MSPs that provide managed network support usually manage the entire enterprise network. In this scenario, they’ll handle your LAN, WAPS (and other connections) and manage backup and storage options.

Managed Print Services

Managed print services blend both business and managed IT services. For example, the MSP will provide the technology, remotely assist with data and file infrastructure, and (sometimes) connect to external printing services. This type of service is suitable for companies with highly complex file management and printing needs.

Managed Cybersecurity

As data breaches become the norm, it’s now critical for companies to fortify their infrastructure. But not many boast the necessary resources and personnel to achieve it. Managed cybersecurity services help even the playing field by deploying robust security technologies that are supported by real-time monitoring, 

Managed Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

While you can directly access SaaS options from a company, for example, Office 365 from Microsoft, it’s often cheaper to subscribe to through an MSP. This is because managed IT services providers often have special agreements with tech giants that enable cost savings (that trickle down to the customer).

Managed Support Services

As alluded to above, the most common service offered by MSPs is IT support services, which usually takes the form of helpdesk services. This approach provides businesses with real-time IT support without any of the HR or overhead expenses.

If your company has been digitally transformed, you’ll benefit from support services. It can also have a positive impact on your bottom line by boosting productivity and keeping costs down.

To learn more about managed services and how it can help your business, schedule a commitment-free consultation.

Top 4 Cybersecurity Threats to Look out for in 2021

The pandemic proved that the bad guys never stop. With the rapid rise of remote working, individuals and organisations are now more vulnerable than ever before to cyberattacks.

In Australia, the health sector reported the most security incidents (22%) during the first half of 2020. Healthcare was followed by the finance sector (15%), education (8%), and insurance (7%). Legal, accounting, and management services (5%) also experienced malicious attacks last year.

Going forward, we can expect an increase in ransomware attacks. As many businesses continue to pay threat actors, it’s turned into a lucrative business. While this may seem like a good idea when you’re in the middle of a security event, it not. There’s no guarantee that they won’t sell the stolen data on the dark web or continue to blackmail your company.

So, what else can we expect to see over the next 12 months? Let’s take a look at the top four cybersecurity threats to look out for in 2021.

1. The Relentless Assault on Remote Workers

As humans remain the weakest link, cybercriminals will continue to target and exploit user behaviours. We already saw how remote workers were targeted last year, and the current surge will continue.

In this scenario, it’s vital to ensure that your staff are aware of cybersecurity best practices. So, make IT security a priority across your organisation. Even if staff are trained and alert, remind them regularly through training workshops online and offline.

If you don’t have the necessary resources to secure your IT infrastructure properly, it’ll be a good idea to engage a managed services provider that provides security and IT support.

2. The Rise of Insider Threats

While your (trained) staff maybe alert to phishing schemes and other social engineering attacks, there’s still a risk of accidental breaches caused by mistakes like misconfigurations.

With more people working remotely and with sensitive data potentially exposed to others at home (or at cafes and co-working spaces), the security risk is now higher than ever before. What’s more, they don’t have IT support professionals around them to answer questions whenever there’s a doubt.

Then there’s also the risk of having a malicious insider that takes advantage of the present situation to engage in nefarious acts. This makes it vital to implement robust access control (including identity and authentication management) across the organisation.

3. An Increase in Fileless Attacks

Expect to see more of the subset of the living off the land (LotL) attacks (or fileless attacks). In this scenario, threat actors exploit tools already present in enterprise environments that don’t generate file-based payloads or generate new files. This creates the risk of these threats going unnoticed.

The typical attack starts with an email that links to a malicious website, but this isn’t always the case. When such sites launch system tools (like PowerShell), built-in security algorithms often miss them, making it a significant challenge for security teams.

However, this is nothing new. Leveraging system tools to create backdoors have been around for decades. However, fileless attacks are widespread again because they reduce malware development cycles. As a result, businesses of all sizes are now a live target for fileless attacks.

To mitigate risk, it’ll help to move your on-premise systems to the cloud, where a managed services provider can support you with cutting-edge security tools, security experts, and extensive real-time monitoring.

4. An Explosion of Business Process Compromises

Whenever bad actors fail to exploit systems and tools, they look for vulnerabilities in the process flow of enterprise operations. In this scenario, cybercriminals seek out systemic operational weaknesses for financial gain.

Those who successfully breach businesses in this manner boast considerable knowledge about the inner workings of the victims’ operations and enterprise systems. They often penetrate the IT infrastructure and gradually observe business processes to identify potential weaknesses.

These attacks often go unnoticed as the compromised systems continue to work as expected. Companies only become alert to it when it’s too late (for example, when bank account information on invoices are changed and funds are siphoned out).

Again, you can mitigate risk by making security a priority and by following best practices. But it’s not always easy to maintain a robust security posture when considering all the different variables like remote working. Since IT support isn’t available at home, make it available remotely while they work in real-time, 24/7.

When was the last time you performed a security audit? If it’s been a while, the time is now. Reach out and schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of our in-house security experts.

Microsoft 365 vs. Perpetual Licensing: What’s the Best Option for Your Business?

Last year, Microsoft announced that it would no longer sell perpetual licenses for their products like Office Home and Business 2019 and Office Professional Plus 2019. This deeply discounted option to use Office 365 on PCs and Macs seemed destined for a subscription-only licensing model.

However, a year later, the tech giant quietly announced that they would release a new perpetual licensing version of Microsoft Office during the second half of 2021.

The company also announced they would release new versions of Exchange Server, Project Server, SharePoint Server, and Skype for Business Server (although these will follow a subscription model).

So what’s the best approach for your business? Let’s take a look.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365, formally known as Office 365, is the only option for anyone who needs unlimited access to a wide range of Office 365 apps. Furthermore, it’s the best option if you need to use it across multiple devices.

At its most basic, a single subscription can be shared by up to six people who access the account simultaneously, or you can pay $9 per month for a single user. Finally, this subscription-based solution offers an endless stream of upgrades and updates with a low cost of ownership for apps like Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word.

Microsoft 365 also comes with artificial intelligence and cloud features that enable real-time collaboration and automation. This approach helps staff maintain productivity across devices.

The Microsoft bundle also offers one terabyte (TB) of OneDrive storage (which can be expanded for a small monthly fee), Skype minutes, and real-time customer support.

While perpetual licensing comes with a one-time fee and limited options, Microsoft 365 allows access to all its applications for a monthly or yearly subscription. However, you might also end up paying for functions and features you’ll never use during your day to day operations.

Pros and Cons of Microsoft 365

ProsCons
Unlimited access to all office appsLimited functionality and potential service issues
$9 a month per userOngoing monthly or yearly payments
Free real-time upgradesPaying for features, you don’t use
Windows 10 and macOS supportSome changing can be overwhelming
24/7 customer support 

Perpetual Licensing

Perpetual licensing is ideal for home-based users. In this scenario, you can obtain immediate access to popular software like Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word with necessary functionalities for a one-time fee.

If you don’t need access to extensive features and you’re happy to use it on a single device, then the perpetual licensing model makes the most sense. You make a one-time payment (that’s on the higher end of the spectrum), and you never have to pay again.

This software pricing model doesn’t provide regular upgrades or updates. But you’ll get all the necessary security updates.

One of the drawbacks here is that you risk using an obsolete version of the software in a year or two. However, the software usually has a life-cycle of five years, so you can still get a lot out of it.

Pros and Cons of Perpetual Licensing

ProsCons
Access to core appsLimited features
One time feeOne PC per license
Traditional computing experienceNo customer support
Regular security updatesNo upgrades
Windows 10 and macOS supportOnly provides support for Windows 10 and macOS
 No 1 TB OneDrive storage or Skype minutes

So what’s the best option for your business?

The answer to the question depends on your specific needs. If you’re working in teams and plan to use office apps for an extended period of time, Microsoft 365 makes perfect sense. This approach ensures seamless access to their entire catalogue at a low cost of ownership.

To learn more about Microsoft 365, schedule a commitment-free consultation.

Equipment Destruction and Recycling

Technology is evolving at an accelerated pace. For businesses, having the latest hardware is vital to staying competitive. Failing to implement an equipment destruction and recycling strategy can put your organisation at risk of operational inefficiencies and poor customer experiences.

While staying up to date is important, it’s also essential to have a safe and ethical e-waste recycling policy. If you’re working with a managed services provider, they will have their own protocols to update, recycle, and destroy server hardware and more. However, the devices used on-premise is your responsibility.

If this process isn’t handled with care, you’ll put your business at significant risk. If enterprise equipment isn’t properly sanitised before it’s destroyed or recycled, it could lead to a data breach.

That’s why a proper IT asset disposal programme is designed to protect both your business and the brand. Furthermore, it ensures that enterprise hardware is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

A proper equipment destruction strategy will:

  • Protect your brand value
  • Refurbish and re-market legacy devices and other assets while ensuring privacy
  • Securely destroy or recycle media onsite or offsite

Destroy Data Before Destroying Equipment

Enterprises destroy end-of-life equipment, sometimes, unnecessarily, because of outdated security policies. However, before dumping legacy hardware in a landfill or recycling them, it’s critical to destroy the data stored in them.

In this scenario, deleting the files isn’t enough. You need to take steps to ensure that the data is properly wiped clean before taking the next step. Regardless of whether it’s a PC or a PoS device, the same rules apply.

Your organisation decides the level of data destruction and recycling required. For example, if you’re a healthcare provider, you might need magnetic degaussing of computerised data.

In highly regulated industries that handle sensitive information, you may also need to have dates, descriptions of processes used to destroy data, and signatures of those who witnessed the destruction of old hardware.

However, destroying enterprise equipment shouldn’t be your first option. According to the World Economic Forum and the United Nations E-waste Coalition, about 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced each year. Most of this waste is either dumped in the landfills of the world’s poorest countries or incinerated.

Recycle Whenever Possible to Save the Planet

When you recycle end-of-life equipment, again, data destruction is the first critical step. In this scenario, you can leverage software that purges and wipes hard drives (and storage drives) clean.

If you engage in magnetic degaussing, it’ll render your hard drive useless. So refurbishing the device to sell it on won’t be an option. Either way, even if you decide to smash your legacy devices, you can recycle some components( and not throw it all in the bin).

After the data is wiped clean, evaluate which parts are viable for repair and resale. Whenever electronics still have something to offer, refurbish and resale is the most environmentally sound option.

However, refurbishing old enterprise equipment doesn’t necessarily have to take the resale route. Instead, you can support ongoing corporate social responsibility programmes by donating your old devices. This approach not only breaths new life into old hardware but also enhances your brand image.

Whenever you’re unable to manage this process in-house, it’s best to engage an established third-party partner. A third-party partner will have tried and tested strategies for the safe and environmentally-friendly disposal of enterprise electronics.

It’ll also ensure that end-of-life equipment is either destroyed or recycled following strict security policies. As long as they follow the Australian government’s ICT equipment sanitisation and disposal guidelines, your company will remain protected.

To learn more about establishing safe and environmentally-friendly equipment destruction and recycling protocols, schedule commitment-free consultation.

What Is the Role of a Data Centre?

In a highly digitized post-pandemic world, data centres power modern businesses by enhancing efficiency and productivity. Data centres leveraged by managed services providers and corporations are modern marvels that feature cutting-edge high-density servers and revolutionary cooling systems.

In recent years, data centres have evolved significantly and will continue to do so. What started with proprietary mainframes on on-premise servers have grown into the cloud, hybrid cloud, and cloud-native infrastructures.

The sheer demand for d cloud computing and data storage has made a wide range of services accessible to everyone from the smallest start-ups to multinationals that demand state-of-the-art enterprise infrastructure.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s define it.

What Is a Data Centre?

A data centre is a facility that helps organisations centralise their shared IT operations and equipment to process, store, and disseminate data and applications.

As a company’s most valuable (and critical proprietary) digital assets are housed in data centres, they are located in highly secure and often impenetrable structures.

A few years ago, data centres were traditionally on-premise physical servers. With the emergence of cloud computing, they’ve evolved to host virtual networks that support applications and workloads across on-premise and multi-cloud environments.

What Are the Key Components of a Data Centre?

The primary components that make up a modern data centre differ significantly, based on the business model. For example, a public cloud services provider will have a different infrastructure and security requirements than a data centre hosting a private cloud on-premise (like one in a highly regulated industry like banking and finance).

The most popular data centre models are as follows:

  • Cloud data centres (like those used by Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud)
  • Colocation data centres (where businesses rent space within a facility located off-premise)
  • Enterprise data centres (owned by companies, housed on-campus, and optimised for the end-user)
  • Managed services data centres (operated by managed services providers who allow companies to lease the hardware instead of buying it)

Since these facilities house business-critical data and applications, they’ll be able to withstand physical intrusions, cyberattacks, and natural disasters.

Standard components found is data centres are as follows:

  • Computing resources (like servers that enable processing, memory, local storage, and network connectivity)
  • Environmental control (to allow cooling, heating, and ventilation supported by exhaust systems)
  • Network infrastructure (both physical and virtualized to enable essential services like external connectivity to end-user locations)
  • Physical and virtual security systems (like biometrics, CCTV video surveillance systems, and encryption technologies)
  • Storage infrastructure (to house its most valuable commodity—data)
  • Support infrastructure (with equipment to ensure the highest availability possible or uptime)
  • Uninterruptible Power Sources (like battery banks, generators, and redundant power sources)

What Is the Purpose of a Data Centre?

Data centres are at the heart of digitally transformed enterprises. These facilities are designed to support big data and analytics, email platforms, high-volume e-commerce platforms, data storage, management protocols, and backup and recovery systems.

These facilities also support cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning applications used by many businesses and government agencies.

As enterprise demands grow exponentially, data centre infrastructure will continue to move off-premise into virtualised environments that support multiple workloads and applications across pools of physical infrastructure and multi-cloud environments.

To learn more about our data centre and hosting services, schedule a commitment-free consultation.

Backup Retention, How to Set a Rotation

Backup retention strategies are at the heart of enterprise data protection protocols. However, it’s critical to choose the right rotation scheme that best suits your operational schedules. This approach helps avoid potential disruptions and downtime.

In this scenario, organisations can leverage user-written scripts or different software applications to schedule data backup, retention, and rotation schemes. But most often, enterprises, including managed services providers, use tape backups because they’re durable and cost-effective.

What Is Backup Tape Rotation?

Backup tape rotation is the process of backing up data to tapes. This approach helps reduce the number of media needed because you can reuse the same tapes for future backups.

However, it’s vital to manage your backup rotation schedule with several redundant copies. This retention method helps preserve rapidly evolving and changing file versions.

Companies need to have a robust strategy in place to determine when each tape is scheduled for another backup. Most businesses, including managed IT services providers, do this based on how long the data on it needs to be retained (before it’s scheduled for another backup).

Although the data that’s backed up most of the time is the same, enterprises can better balance retention requirements and costs by deploying different rotation and vaulting schemes.

What Are the Different Types of Backup Tape Rotation Schemes?

The right backup rotation scheme for your business depends on your specific storage and retention requirements.

The three leading backup retention and rotation schemes are as follows:

First In, First Out (FIFO) Backup Tape Rotation Scheme

FIFO focuses on backing up the newest or the most recently modified files and saves it on the oldest tape. When companies do this, they ensure that they use a backup tape with the least useful (previous) data.

When you follow the FIFO retention and rotation model, your backup depth goes as far as the number of tapes used for this activity.

Grandfather–Father–Son (GFS) Backup Tape Rotation Scheme

GFS backup schemes are popular among companies that leverage three or more backup cycles. The GFS model leverages daily, weekly, and monthly data backup models, depending on the business’ specific needs. However, these daily, weekly, and monthly backup tapes follow the FIFO rotation system.

The Tower of Hanoi Backup Tape Rotation Scheme

The Tower of Hanoi retention and rotation model is the most complex of the three strategies. This scheme follows a mathematical puzzle created by French mathematician Edward Lucas.

The Tower of Hanoi backups and tape rotation cycle follows exponential retention periods. The scheduled tape backup schedule follows a recursive pattern instead of using a large number of backup tapes daily.

For example, Tape A is used to backup data every two days, while Tape B is used every four days. Tape C and Tape D are backed up every eight days.

The idea here is that data from eight days ago can be used for restoration despite using just four backup tapes. If you use five tapes, then the backup data from 16 days ago will be available to restore data.

Backup Retention and Rotation Tips:

  • Always verify the seamless recovery of your backup data
  • Always create a version history (regardless of the backup and retention approach)
  • Always store backup tapes off-site.
  • Always have a robust management system in place

At GoHosting, we recommend that enterprises use one of the regular rotation schedules described above. They provide for different file versions and backup most applications and software packages.

The best backup and retention method for your organisation is relative to your company and business model.

If you need help identifying and deploying the right backup data retention and restoration scheme, we can help schedule a commitment-free consultation.

Is EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) better than Anti-Virus Software?

Traditional anti-virus programs are often enough to protect a small business’ endpoints. However, EDR takes it to a whole new level by responding to the current threat landscape effectively.  

At a distance, both anti-virus software and EDR can appear almost indistinguishable. However, upon closer examination, the two security protocols prove to be substantially different.  

Understanding these differences is key to achieving robust enterprise security. 

  1. What’s anti-virus Software? 

According to leading cybersecurity provider Norton, anti-virus software is more like a decentralised security system that helps protect your computer from cyberattacks (including malware and spyware attacks).  

In this scenario, anti-virus software monitors the data traveling through the network to your devices. This information is then compared to known threats while examining the behaviour of all programs on the system.  

Whenever suspicious behaviour is identified, the anti-virus program will attempt to block or remove the infection.  

Anti-virus programs do the following to protect against different types of security threats: 

  • Confirm the safety and security of your device 
  • Delete malicious codes and software 
  • Pinpoint particular files for the detection of malicious code 
  • Scan either a single file or your entire computer at your discretion 
  • Schedule automatic scans 

With ever-evolving cyberthreats, anti-virus is vital to protecting enterprise devices. However, having anti-virus software alone isn’t enough. Instead, anti-virus software should be a component of your overall cyber defence strategy. 

  1. What’s EDR? 

According to the global security software provider McAfee, EDR (also know as ETDR or endpoint threat detection and response) is a unified security solution. It combines a collection of endpoint data with a rules-based automated response, continuous real-time monitoring, and analysis capabilities. 

EDR solutions and tools are designed to detect and investigate suspicious activities across all endpoints in your enterprise infrastructure. Compared to traditional anti-virus software, EDR helps better secure enterprise networks. 

EDR tools do the following to protect against different types of security threats: 

  • Analyse data to identify threat patterns 
  • Automatically respond to recognised threats by removing or containing them  
  • Forensics and analysis tools to research known risks and compare them with internal activity to search for suspicious behaviour 
  • Monitor and collect activity data in real-time from endpoints to pinpoint potential threats 
  1. Anti-virus vs. EDR 

In general, EDR tools don’t replace traditional anti-virus software and firewalls. Instead, they work together to help companies enhance their security protocols and fortify their IT infrastructure. 

However, as threat actors relentlessly try to find innovative ways to breach enterprise systems, EDR is better placed to secure networks. For example, the different analytical tools offered by EDR solutions provide advanced monitoring and reporting capabilities not found in traditional anti-virus programs.  

Traditional anti-virus solutions are simplistic in nature and limited in scope when compared to EDR. When organisations build a robust EDR system, they can make anti-virus software a part of their overall threat detection protocols. 

Modern EDR systems incorporate anti-virus, firewalls, monitoring tools, whitelisting tools, and more. It’s essentially a comprehensive approach that runs on a client-server to better secure your digital perimeter.   

Some key differences that help EDR stand out are as follows: 

  • Its ability to identify endpoint threats quickly 
  • Real-time response when threats are identified 
  • Robust data loss prevention protocols 
  • Protects large scale enterprise architecture efficiently 
  • Provides more holistic protection of enterprise networks  
  • Sandboxing 

Today,  Managed IT services providers also offer EDR solutions powered by artificial intelligence that stop attacks before they cause any real harm. This approach helps derail advanced threats at the most vulnerable endpoint.  

Anti-virus software, on the other hand, allows attacks to take place and then responds to it. This makes EDR solutions and tools the best option for business.  

From now on, companies can’t afford to make security an afterthought. Furthermore, your familiarity with anti-virus software shouldn’t trump the capabilities of EDR.  

To learn more about endpoint detection and response, and how it can help your business maintain robust security and compliance, schedule a commitment-free consultation

IT Security, What Is It Really?

In the current threat landscape, data breaches are rapidly becoming the new norm. This makes robust IT security critical to secure company and customer data.

According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), malicious cyber attacks remained the leading cause of data breaches, accounting for 61% of all data breach notifications in the first half of 2020.

Furthermore, human error accounted for as much as 34% of all data breaches in the country. This suggests that enterprise security’s far more complicated than just obtaining sensitive data or protecting it.

Today, managed IT services providers help small and medium-sized enterprises and corporations access top security talent and technologies to fortify their IT infrastructure, cost-effectively. This approach allows IT support teams to leverage various cybersecurity protocols to protect sensitive, personally identifiable information and maintain business relevance.

IT Security Defined

IT security incorporates a set of cybersecurity strategies to prevent unauthorised access to enterprise assets such as servers, networks, and data. It helps ensure data privacy and compliance by maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information (by blocking the access of sophisticated hackers).

It’s essential as bad actors are relentlessly attacking enterprise networks. So with the help of managed IT services, security teams must strive to mitigate multiple cyber threats like the following:

  • Denial-of-service attacks
  • DNS tunnelling
  • Malware attacks
  • Man-in-the-middle
  • Phishing campaigns
  • Ransomware attacks
  • SQL injection
  • Zero-day exploits

Different Types of IT Security

There isn’t a fool-proof turnkey security solution that can alleviate multiple threats to enterprise networks in this rapidly evolving threat landscape. To mitigate risk, companies must evolve with the threat and implement a multi-pronged approach to secure their technology infrastructure.

This process starts with the individual evaluation of different cybersecurity layers:

Application Security

Application security focuses on security at a development level. This approach demands adequate security protocols coded into applications to eliminate any potential vulnerabilities.

For example, a zero-day attack is initiated when hackers hunt for vulnerabilities to exploit and find one. So applications are now thoroughly evaluated during the development cycle to identify and fix any of the app’s potential weaknesses.

Today, organisations take it a step further by engaging in manual penetration tests, black-box analysis, white-box analysis, and more to identify potential flaws missed by internal security teams.

Cloud Security

Cloud security protocols help secure enterprise applications and users on the cloud. Whether it’s a public, private, or hybrid cloud, companies must deploy a variety of technologies to better secure their environment.

Some cloud security tools deployed by companies include:

  • Cloud-Access Security Broker (CASB)
  • Cloud-Based Unified Threat Management (UTM)
  • Secure Internet Gateway (SIG)

While the technologies above help protect the cloud, businesses must also implement robust encryption protocols to protect data in motion and rest.

Endpoint Security

Of all the different IT security protocols, endpoint security is probably the most challenging threat to mitigate. This is because end-users often don’t follow the same security best practices and jeopardise the entire network (often through human error).

With endpoint security, IT security teams must strive to secure every entry point to the network, whether it be computers, mobile phones, or the Internet of Things (IoT). This is not straightforward and often demands extensive third-party IT support to fill the talent gap.

To achieve robust endpoint security, security leaders must also demand regular security training workshops and technologies like sophisticated anti-malware software, encryption tools, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Network Security

Network security is leveraged to block malicious users from breaching the network while ensuring enhanced usability, reliability, and uncompromising integrity. It’s the most common form of IT security deployed to deny unauthorised access to data generated within the network.

This approach helps ensure enhanced user experiences while maintaining robust security. In this scenario, security teams use endpoint security protocols along with antivirus software, firewalls, and Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS) to strengthen their security posture.

As technology continues to grow more advanced and scale, maintaining robust IT security has become a game of cat and mouse. As hackers discover ever more ingenious ways to exploit vulnerabilities, security teams must adapt to the changes and strive to stay a step ahead of threat actors.

To learn more about how our IT support services can help boost enterprise security, reach out to one of our in-house security experts.

Let’s talk about backups

Backups are an essential practice for any organisation aiming for high-availability and redundancy. Nowadays the importance of backups is generally understood but a lot of people tend to overlook how their backups are stored. It’s important to look beyond the scope of your system when analysing critical functions as external factors can be just as impactful as internal events.

So in this blog article, we will be analysing some of the common methods organisations backup their data and evaluate how effective their storage solutions are in the event of a crisis.

This is a thought piece and something to get you thinking about your backups and hopefully landing you in a place where you are at least doing a better job than average of managing your backups.

A very high level look a some of the common types of backups systems:

Backups are something many small business fail to understand and manage.

Method 1: Local Backups to Same Disk (LBSD)

The first method we will be discussing is Local Backups to Same Disk (LBSD). What this means is that the backup information is stored on the same disk as the backup source. This is a rather poor method of protecting your data as it is physically stored on the same disk which puts both the backup source and destination at risk in scenarios of disk failure / data corruption.

Allow me to explain the LBSD ideology with an example being a house with a spare key stored inside the house. In the scenario that you were locked out of that house; the spare key would be useless as it is being physically kept inside the resource that you cannot access. Overall, we don’t recommend any organisation use LBSD backups as their only backup source as they’re not impactful enough in the event of a crisis and often provide a false sense of security.

Method 2: Local Backups to an External Device (LBED)

The next method is Local Backups to an External Device (LBED); this involves backing up your information to an external device that is kept in the same physical location as the source of the backup.  Following our trusty house example; this would be the same as having the spare key be stored outside the house but still close enough if needed in a locked-out scenario (under a doormat or potted plant outside). This is a lot better than LBSD as it is not prone to the same shortcomings of having one unified weakness instead replacing that with two independent devices that would require both disks to fail / corrupt before any data loss occurs.

This means that LBED has twice the redundancy of LBSD for minimal extra effort. However; there are still risks to this method as both disks are physically stored together, meaning that any crisis that affects the entire physical location would still affect both drives. This possibility can be mitigated by having multiple external drives that are rotated between the location and an external safe location.

Remote Backups over the Internet (RBOTI)

The last method we will be discussing is Remote Backups over the Internet (RBOTI). Remote backups are done by running a backup much like LBSD / LBED and uploading the result to a trusted destination across the internet. This removes the risk of any data loss incurred by damage to the hardware or software. In the house / key scenario this would be the equivalent of giving the spare key to a trusted neighbour that can give the key back to you if required. This backup method comes with its own set of risks and challenges though; For instance, the channel that you use to backup the data or the data itself should be encrypted or else you would simply be sending a copy of all your data to every malicious user along its path. It is also important that the recipient is trusted to protect your data and takes measures to prevent malicious access to your data because having a backup is just as valuable as having the original copy for a hacker. Another downside to this method of backup is that the restoration time post-crisis is significantly longer with current infrastructure as the restoration data would need to travel back over the internet to be used locally. All-in-All, we don’t recommend this as an independent backup solution because of its limitations post-crisis.

But what about good old manual offsite backups?

So one thing that we decided to NOT include in our main discussion points is the good old manual offsite backups. This means physically taking data offsite and storing it somewhere safe. This is of course what many people have been doing for years and many still do, but these days it should be the last option you choose after you encounter blockers for the other options. In today’s world, most people are time-poor, and therefore, people are an unreliable part of your backup system, so their failings should be avoided and strictly managed as a result.

What should I be doing?

Well, the answer these days, is usually using a combination of method two and three. By Utilising LBED with a disk rotation as well as RBOTI you are ensuring your data is protected from many common crises that can and will affect your business. It ensures that in the scenario that a simple restoration is required your business is not out of operation for a large amount of time as well as giving you some form of business continuity if for example; your primary business location burns to the ground, or more likely, gets robbed with valuable computers and servers being taken. It also gives you added redundancy in the scenario that the backups themselves have data loss as you will have two possible restoration points.

There are many other discussion points that we could have veered down in this brain dump, but we hope this at least gets the risk management juices flowing. On a closing note, if you are in a position where you are managing a businesses data, being your own business or as a manager in anothers business, do yourself a favor and call AUIT and book in for a free consultation with one of our Business Risk Managers. We have some very affordable ways to greatly enhance and assist you with reducing your I.T business risks, as well as increasing productivity and meeting security standards.

At AUIT we love to have a chat with business owners and hearing about your experiences, so please feel free to comment on this article, or give us a call or an email anytime. All of our quotes and recommendations are 100% obligation free, so please do reach out to us at any time.