September 27, 2011
The terms cloud computing and virtualization are often used interchangeably.
But, in reality, both technologies offer different approaches to managing an organization’s data infrastructure while reducing the cost of computing resources.
Let’s take a look at these technologies and examine what makes them different.
Virtualization: Many Servers on the Same Hardware
Basically, virtualization allows an organization to run multiple “virtual” servers on the same hardware, eliminating the need for additional hardware.
In the past, when an organization wanted to add a new application to their existing infrastructure, they would need to purchase additional hardware to increase their computing power. Over time, this course of action ended up costing a lot of money.
Virtualization offers a solution to this problem.
Here’s how it works. One server controls access to the physical server’s computing resources. This is often referred to as the host server. Any additional servers run virtually within containers provided by the host server.
This eliminates the need for additional hardware and, ultimately, cuts down on energy costs too.
Cloud Computing: A Third-party Service
Cloud computing is similar to virtualization in that it lets an organization run multiple applications without having to purchase additional hardware. All you need to get started is secure access to the internet because your data is transmitted via internet protocols.
The server hardware that manages your organization’s date is located offsite. In fact, cloud computing is often distributed across many dedicated servers which provides high availability and redundancy.
Essentially, cloud computing is a service while virtualization is a part of your physical IT infrastructure. The user does not necessarily need to know the location and configuration of the system that delivers the service because those details are handled by the vendor.
Which is Right for My Business?
Determining whether your organization needs virtualization or cloud computing depends on many factors, and for many businesses the decision hinges primarily on costs and security.
Virtualization generally requires higher upfront costs because you must first purchase hardware to run your virtualized servers. While virtualization will save your organization money overtime, it does require a considerable investment early on. The great thing about virtualization is that your servers are running onsite so the level of security is high. It’s like your own mini-cloud that you control access to. This makes virtualization an excellent choice for organizations that require a lot of security like government agencies and financial institutions.
Unlike virtualization, cloud computing requires low upfront costs because there is no need to purchase any hardware. You pay a third party provider for the resources your organization needs to function and nothing more. However, as time goes by and your needs grow, you will need to purchase additional resources. Over time, paying for each additional resource as your business grows could end up costing more money than using virtual servers on your own infrastructure. Another important factor to consider with cloud computing is that your placing the safety of your organization’s data in the hands of a third party vendor. If you’re considering cloud computing, be sure to choose a vendor that is reputable.
Still not sure which technology is best for your organization’s IT infrastructure? Let the experts at AMRCON help you determine the right technology for your business. Fill out our Free Network Audit request form for more information.
September 15, 2011
In August 2011, New Jersey dealt with two extremely unusual natural disasters in a single week: an earthquake and a hurricane.
While we were able to track Hurricane Irene for weeks and prepare for the worst, the earthquake came out of nowhere, striking a region not generally known for such events.
The point is: disaster can strike at any time. These recent natural disasters have emphasized the need for disaster planning in business. A disaster recovery plan can significantly reduce the amount of time your business needs to recover and continue serving your clients after disaster strikes.
For most businesses today, no disaster recovery plan would be complete without thorough guidelines for restoring their information technology (IT) infrastructure as these systems are critical to business continuity.
Does your business have an IT disaster recovery plan in place?
If your answer is no, then now’s the time to develop a plan for your business.
An IT disaster recovery plan is essential if you plan to continue operating your business after an unforeseen disaster occurs. Here are just a few reasons why you need a IT disaster recovery plan:
- To continue operations during and after a disaster
- To ensure you are always available to your clients
- To sustain the flow of mission-critical applications
- To protect your technology infrastructure investments
Fill out our request form for a Free Network Audit.
IT Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist
In November 2010, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) laid out a seven step plan for creating an effective IT disaster recovery plan in Special Publication 800-34, Contingency Planning for Information Technology Systems.
The following is a summary of those recommendations.
- Develop an IT disaster recovery plan policy. A formal policy solidifies the authority of a contingency plan.
- Perform a business impact analysis (BIA). A BIA is necessary for identifying and prioritizing critical components of your IT infrastructure.
- Identify preventative controls. These are steps taken before an emergency that may help reduce downtime.
- Develop disaster recovery strategies. Detailed recovery strategies ensure that your IT system can be recovered quickly after a disaster.
- Develop an IT contingency plan. A contingency plan should include detailed procedures for restoring an IT system.
- Test the plan and train employees. Test the plan to identify any problems and train employees so they’re ready when disaster strikes.
- Review the plan regularly. Technology changes constantly and your plan should take those changes into account.
Is your business prepared for disaster?
Every business is vulnerable to disaster—from bizarre seismic activity to a stolen laptop.
Taking the time to anticipate and plan for these kinds of occurrences is both prudent and necessary for your business’ ongoing success.
How has your business prepared for disaster? Please share your thoughts below.
Need help creating your IT disaster recovery plan from start to finish? Fill out our Free Network Audit request form- we’d be happy to assist you.
March 21, 2011
Backup & Disaster Recovery
When you absolutely cannot risk the loss of data
The primary goal of Backup and Disaster Recovery planning is to determine in advance how to keep your business operational despite any number of potential disasters. AMRCON will work closely with you to analyze your business situation and help you prepare for every possible scenario. Continue Reading
March 14, 2011
ODS Spam Guard is a superior email spam filter and anti-virus filter, with a unique email catch program that is offered through AMRCON as a managed service so you don’t have to worry about destructive emails bringing down your system.
At AMRCON, we are constantly developing new products and services that can help our clients increase efficiency and achieve their business goals. For the past several months, we have been creating and testing an exciting new product and are now proud to make it available.
ODS Spam Guard is three products in one: a superior email spam filter and anti-virus filter, with a unique email catch program that is offered through AMRCON as a managed service. Here is how ODS Spam Guard works:
- All emails coming in through a server are immediately captured with “Email Catch,” even if the server is down for repair or maintenance. This means senders will never receive an embarrassing bounce-back message.
- Once emails have been captured, they are sent through a sophisticated “Anti-Virus Filter,” where all messages infected with viruses, Spyware, phishing and malware are automatically quarantined to protect the server from potential harm.
- Emails that have been identified as virus-free are then sent through an advanced “Anti-Spam Filter,” where a constantly updated spam identification product blocks and intercepts suspicious emails and sends them to the quarantine box.
- Finally an easy, user-friendly interface enables users to manage the quarantine box in significantly less time than with standard spam filters, while providing simple self-administration for white and black lists. Continue Reading
October 5, 2009
Spyware is the means through which hackers gain access to your computer and your private information. Spyware is defined as any software that covertly gathers user information through your Internet connection without your knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. It watches everything you do on the Internet and sends that information, including private e-mail, passwords, and credit card numbers to the hacker invisibly, without your knowledge. No matter how careful you are, regardless of what virus protection you buy, you will always be at risk without the proper anti-spyware tools to protect you. How do you know if you have been infected? If the Start page in your Web browser keeps changing by itself, if your computer starts crashing more often than usual, or if you have tried to uninstall unfamiliar programs only to find they are still there after you restart your computer, then you are infected.
Spyware can be pretty malicious. “Key loggers” watch your very keystroke and mouse click, then records your passwords, log-ons, and account numbers. You might think you don’t need to read this column because you’ve taken steps to protect yourself. Well, if you have all the most current antivirus software, have installed Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, and have a very powerful firewall to protect you, then you would be WRONG! The fact is that all of these items do absolutely nothing to protect your computer from spyware at all, leaving you completely vulnerable to attack. Also, you know all those updates that Microsoft Windows XP installs? None of them protect you from spyware writers, who exploit ways to transparently install spyware through your Internet Explorer browser. These programs can even prevent Service Pack 2 from installing correctly. Once these programs infect you, your computer becomes very slow, because all your computer processing power is eaten up by the spyware itself. Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security from any one anti-spyware program that claims to provide total protection – it doesn’t exist.
Spam is the most virulent form of abuse that any Internet user must endure. The problem is so common that most people find they are forced to change their e-mail address just to avoid getting junk email. Unfortunately, changing your e-mail is worse than changing your phone number because nobody knows how to contact you. Microsoft Outlook 2003 and Eudora 6 are two of the major programs that have the ability to filter incoming e-mail as messages are received. If a message is believed to be spam, the message is filtered to the spam folder for later review. Many mail servers running on UNIX machines run a program called Spam Assassin (www.spamassassin.org) which separates messages that contain potentially unsafe attachments, match keywords representing spam or rejects messages from known spamming addresses.
Internet phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is when a hacker sends you an e-mail falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise. The idea is to try to scam you into surrendering private information that will be used to steal your identity. This e-mail asks you to visit a Web site where you are asked to update your personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security number, and bank account numbers information that the legitimate organization already has. The scam is that this Web site is bogus and is set up only to steal your confidential information. You must be careful whenever you receive an email from what appears to be a trusted company. Hackers are very good at writing convincing letters that appear to be genuine. You must never ever click on a link in one of these e-mails, because even though it might look authentic, it almost always is not. It is very simple matter for a hyperlink to show one Web site and send you somewhere completely different when you click on it. These links are designed to take you to the hacker’s site. Don’t even cut and paste these links into your browser, because the hidden information in the URL takes you directly to the hacker instead of where you intended to go. When you need to go to a Web site, open a new browser window and type in the address by hand. That’s the only way you can be sure. So, if you somehow find yourself on a Web site and you just aren’t certain if it is from the hacker or not, what can you do? Well, here is a good tip. If the site asks you for personal information, just type in any random set of information. If the site says you have entered invalid information, then at least you have a good clue that it is most likely authentic. However, if the Web site lets you type in any random information and comes back to tell your information has been updated, then the site is almost certainly from a hacker designed to capture anyone’s information (no matter what they type).
Another telltale sign of phishing is when e-mails are not addressed to you specifically by name but instead say, “Dear Customer.” If an email doesn’t take the time to address you by name, something is wrong! When you receive an e-mail, ask yourself, “Why am I receiving this note?” If you are unsure, call the company directly and ask. Never assume an e-mail is authentic just because it looks like it came from a trusted company. Hackers easily spoof the “from” field of an e-mail to make it appear it is a legitimate correspondence. Never click on an attachment contained in an e-mail, because you never know what virus or spyware is lurking beneath the surface waiting to steal your private information and send it to the hacker world.
It is important when you go onto a Web site to make certain the page begins with https:// That “S” means “secure,” and, if it is not there, anything you input can be intercepted by a hacker. One of the nasty tricks hackers use when trying to redirect you to a fraudulent site is to mimic the URL of the trusted site. Hackers are very good at what they do. Sometimes you can take every precaution and still find yourself in trouble, not knowing if you are giving your information to a hacker. The best protection is your own vigilance. Don’t click, don’t open unless you feel confident about the sender.