7 Signs That Say It’s Time to Consider Cloud Disaster Recovery

What happens to your business in the event of a disaster? How do you bounce back? To secure proper business continuity, whatever the weather, you need a disaster recovery plan.

Read on for seven signs that tell you it’s time to implement a cloud disaster recovery solution within your disaster recovery (DR) plan.

Your business is not prepared for disasters from within

When you think of disasters occurring in relation to your business, it’s tempting just to focus on external factors. However, this could leave you exposed to a multitude of problems from within your organization. Research published by Veritis found that only 23% of disaster incidences are actually caused by external security breaches, with almost three-quarters of incidents originating from within. Make sure that you are prepared for any issues within your own IT architecture or elsewhere within the company.

You can’t remember the last time you tested your disaster recovery plan

Putting a disaster recovery plan in place should not be cause for “resting on your laurels”. Instead, this should be just the beginning. Your field is ever-changing and evolving, which means the risks you face are changing and evolving too. Make sure to test your DR plan regularly, to make sure it is up to scratch and able to support you as you move towards growth.

You can identify too many “fair weather” elements

You can’t expect the hands of fate to be lenient in the event of a disaster, and so your plan needs to be watertight. Try this as an experiment: describe your disaster recovery plan and protocols verbally, at length. Any instance in which you need to say “unless,” “as long as,” “provided that,” or any other conditional allowance for your plan is a weak spot. Make sure that these weak spots are eliminated.

You meet the minimum regulatory requirement, nothing more

The regulations are great. They make sure that all businesses maintain a base level of responsibility and care in how they operate, and they provide protection to the consumer. However, they are a minimum standard — and we really mean a minimum standard. Make these regulatory requirements your baseline and work from there.

You rely too much on untested protocols

If the disaster recovery plan you have in place has not been means tested, it is not battle-ready. And if it is not battle-ready, you have no idea what is going to happen when it’s time for action. As many as 93% of businesses without an effective DR plan will be put out of business if they are hit by a catastrophe, so the seriousness of the situation cannot be understated. Unless you have a whole lot of resources at your disposal for developing your solutions, make sure everything you are using is tried and tested.

Your disaster recovery plans are not people-focused

It’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche because it’s true: your business needs to be people-focused. And this includes your disaster recovery plan. You might have software solutions and other disaster recovery measures set up and in place, but what about your personnel; do they know what to do? Making sure your teams understand exactly what is required of them during the recovery process, and aid them with cloud-based support.

You have no remote Plan B

It is possible that your team members will not be able to approach work in the same way, for example, if a crisis makes office-based work impossible. This is where you must embrace the potential of remote work. Without a cloud solution in place, this is simply impossible and could cost you dearly.

A disaster doesn’t have to shutter your business’s doors. Heed the warnings above, implement a cloud disaster recovery plan, and if the worst-case scenario actually happens, you’ll be capable of dealing with it. 

Free Webinar: Cybersecurity War Stories And The Ammo You Need To Protect Yourself

In today’s business environment, always being connected is a must to compete. But doing so creates real risk to your business. Malicious attacks, including ransomware, malware and phishing, demonstrate how businesses can be brought to a halt by locking access or compromising business-critical data. In this webinar, our friends from Arctic Wolf, the leaders in threat detection and response, share the war stories and incidents they have seen – and arm you with the knowledge you need to combat them.

Free Webinar: Protecting Against Cyber Threats With The Human Firewall

No matter how up to date you are with the latest technology and best practices, you will always have a security vulnerability to manage -your employees. All it takes is one click to infect a workstation that allows hackers to cause a ransomware attack, an expensive data breach or worse a cyber-heist. In this webinar, we’ll help you understand how to turn your weakest link into one of your best security assets – the human firewall.

Free Webinar: Navigating The Impossibly Complex World of Cybersecurity

According to Forrester Research, complexity is the #1 security challenge IT Professionals face in today’s world. Consider the fact that there were more than 600 vendors at the 2018 RSA Conference. How do you manage it all? How do you plan to combat the cybercrime industry that has grown to an estimated at $6T? In this webinar, we’ll help you understand a new approach to security that helps you go from overwhelmed to empowered with the three questions you need to be asking to reduce complexity.

Showdown: On-Premise Phone Systems vs Cloud Phone Systems

Communication is at the heart of every business.

[Pull quote] “And even in the digital world, phones still matter. Forty percent of customers prefer speaking with a real human on the phone to resolve complicated issues.”

The question, then, is this: which phone system is the best? It’s time for the highly-anticipated showdown.

In the red corner, we’ve got the good old-fashioned on-premise solution. And in the blue corner, we’ve got the younger up-and-comer, the cloud phone system.

Who will come out on top? Let’s put them head to head in four rounds of close combat.

What is an on-premise phone system?

Without getting too technical, an on-premise phone system (sometimes referred to as a PBX) is a physical phone system that is either owned or leased by the business and stored at the business’s main premises or in its data center.

On-premise phone systems can include on-premise Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and digital setups.

Typically, you will be responsible for the upgrades, maintenance processes, and expansion of the system. Many businesses do, however, choose to partner with a services provider when using an on-premise phone system.

What is a cloud phone system?

[Pull quote] “Seventy-seven percent of enterprises have at least one aspect of their computing infrastructure – and this number is expected to grow.”

Like other cloud-based services, a cloud phone system is delivered via the internet. In contrast to on-premise phone systems, the only hardware stored in the workplace are the actual phones and a network PoE switch.

Typically, a cloud phone system service provider hosts a large phone system in a data center, and this is segmented into smaller systems for their various clients. The service provider is responsible for all upgrades and maintenance.

Cloud phone systems are also referred to as the following:

On-premise phone systems vs cloud phone systems

Both on-premise and cloud phone systems offer advantages to small- and medium-sized businesses. Both have their drawbacks, too.

To help you decide which is the best option for you and your organization, let’s examine how each service option performs in several key areas. Let’s get started.

Round 1: Available features

Phone systems are significantly more advanced than they used to be. Businesses can now access a whole host of game-changing call features and data analysis if they invest in either on-premise or hosted VoIP systems.

Both on-premise and cloud-based VoIP systems offer the following features:

  • Collaboration tools, including file sharing
  • Call control
  • Voicemail greeting
  • Messaging
  • Mobility
  • App integrations
  • Web management tools
  • Call training
  • Contact storage
  • Analytics
  • And more

The winner: If you go the VoIP route, it’s a tie.

Round 2: Scalability

Your phone system must be agile enough to change and expand with your business. When you grow, you should be able to scale your phone service to meet increased demands.

On-premise systems give you complete control over these changes. You can switch to a new solution, or even mix and match to create a truly customized system. The drawback? Expanding a phone system can be complex, and without a provider, it’s your responsibility to execute changes without causing downtime.

If you opt for a cloud phone system, on the other hand, your provider shoulders the risk. They can scale your service quickly and effectively – and you don’t have to do a thing. What’s more, software updates tend to happen automatically, so your phone system is always equipped with the latest features and security patches.

The winner: Cloud-based phone systems.

Round 3: Cost

As a business owner, you know that every dollar counts. Cost is always a leading concern, so how do on-premise and cloud phone systems measure up?

On the one hand, an on-premise system may be more economical in the long run. There’s no risk of a fee increase, and once you own the equipment, you own it for good. On the other hand, you will need to fork out a fair amount of cash upfront to secure the hardware you need. What’s more, you are responsible for upgrades, maintenance, and repairs, which can add up over time.

Cloud-based phone systems are far cheaper to set up. And you won’t be subject to unexpected repair costs. That being said, your service provider could increase their fee at any time.

[Pull quote] “For the startup business, it’s never been easier or so cheap to set up a business phone system or even a call center.” – TechRadar

The winner: Upfront, cloud-based phone systems are more economical. However, you do risk paying more long term. 

Round 4: Control

Phone systems are not one-size-fits-all, and control over the scale and functionality of your service is critical.

On-premise systems, without a doubt, offer greater control. You and your IT team have total authority over every detail. You can combine distinct solutions to formulate a custom-created system that meets your business’s needs better than anything else on the market.

Do keep in mind, however, that with great power comes great responsibility. Implementations, software updates, and maintenance must be performed by your IT staff or outsourced.

While cloud phone systems don’t offer the same level of control, they do give you access to features that you may not have been able to implement yourself.

The winner: If control is a top-priority, on-premise solutions cannot be beaten.

Which comes out on top?

So, there’s no clear winner. Which phone system works best for your business truly depends on your needs and limitations. What we can conclude is this:

  • If you are an SMB with significant IT resources that requires total control or a fully customized solution, opt for an on-premise system.
  • If you are a business of any size looking to stretch your IT budget or you don’t have in-house IT resources, go for a cloud phone system.

Happy phone shopping!

How to Put Together a Powerful Video Conferencing System For Business

Workplaces are becoming more disparate, and travel is getting more expensive. Companies are looking for alternatives to align objectives, create a sense of community, and generally drive business in the right direction. Video conferencing can replace the traditional meeting by allowing workers from all over the world to connect, share information, and make sure that everyone is pointed in the right direction.

What is video conferencing?

Video conferencing is the next evolution of the conference call. It allows employees and offices to connect without needing to be in the same physical location. Video conferencing adds the benefit of face to face interactions without the need for expensive travel. It also means that remote offices can share information and connect directly.

Why is it important for business?

Video conferencing does more than replace traditional meetings or conference calls. Video conferencing has several significant benefits for modern businesses.

Enables a digital workforce

More companies are using digital workers who are located around the world. This is a great choice for finding the right talent, understanding local cultures during expansion, and creating a global understanding of business. More than 80% of companies allow some level of telework. But connecting workers and creating culture can be difficult when everything is conducted via email. A face-to-face meeting can help workers connect with the people they work with.

Saves money

Companies save money with video conferencing because they don’t need to pay for expensive travel. Traveling around the world is exciting, but it also weighs on the company budget. Some travel may still be necessary, but by connecting remote offices digitally, businesses can minimize what’s needed.

Boosts productivity with remote team members

Culture and companionship at work is a huge productivity booster for team members. When someone is working remotely and feels disconnected from their workforce, they’ll be less focused and get less work done. By creating a sense of team, workers are more likely to keep on top of their work and stay organized, maximizing productivity.

So how do you find an exceptional video conferencing system?

There are several different options you should look for in order to make your conferencing system work well for your business.

  • Have space for enough people. If you expect everyone in your company to attend a video conference, make sure the software you choose has the capability of connecting that many individuals. It’s a good idea to future proof your system; make sure you have the ability to add more channels in the future if you need to.
  • Video quality. Although the user’s device will have a big influence on video quality, the system itself determines how much data it can transmit, and how quickly. Making sure your system is HD video capable will help keep pictures clear and detailed.
  • Group messaging. Sometimes a team member has a question that doesn’t need to be asked of the entire meeting. Being able to have small side conversations while the meeting is occurring can be helpful and reduce interruptions.
  • File sharing. Don’t remember to send a file after the meeting; send it to all screens during the meeting so that details can be discussed as necessary. The ability to share screens can also be beneficial.
  • Multiple connection methods. Expect that employees will be connecting through desktops, laptops, tablets, cell phones, and conference rooms. Ensure that the software can handle all types of devices connecting. Allow for regular calling in options, in case someone can’t use their video connection for some reason.
  • Recording. Minutes are a good way to record some aspects of the meeting, but not all of them. Recording the meeting can be a great way to share it with those who aren’t able to be present, or to use it as the foundations for a later webinar.

If you’re not sure how to construct a solid video conferencing system for your business, reach out to experts who can help you get started.

How Cybersecurity Fits Into Disaster Recovery

Having a disaster recovery plan is essential when you’re trying to keep your business and its reputation safe. In addition to focusing on details such as how you’ll function during adverse weather, you need to focus on cybersecurity. By learning more about the way cybersecurity and disaster recovery intersect, you can reduce the impact on your business if the worst happens.

Decide what requires your protection

The essence of a disaster recovery plan is to protect your organization’s data. To ensure your plan is extra-efficient, you need to choose exactly what it is you’re going to protect.

For example, if your business represents many clients, and you need to hold information about them to continue operating, what information is the most important? After you’ve identified the type of information that’s most important, you can move onto protecting it against one of the biggest cybersecurity threats: ransomware.

According to Business Insider, ransomware generates around $25 million for hackers each year. As it’s such a financially juicy target, it’s safe to assume that your most important information is at risk too. By gathering that data and backing it up in a safe space such as the cloud, you can lessen the impact if ransomware takes hold.

Treating all devices as a gateway for disaster

Most people in the United States own a smartphone. Many also have their own laptops and tablets. As a result, more employers are allowing employees to access company information remotely. The benefits of remote access include being able to work at home, working during a commute, and being able to contact the office while on business trips.

Unfortunately, every device that can access your business’s information is a gateway for a disaster. At the same time, those same devices can act as vital tools when disasters strike elsewhere. To prevent devices from becoming disaster gateways, ensure employees receive ample training on cybersecurity threats and identifying phishing emails. To make the most of your employees’ devices, ensure they’re equipped with everything they need for remote access when adverse weather hits.

Consider where you’ll need to mitigate impacts

It’s an unfortunate fact that disaster will hit all businesses at some point. While that may be certain, it isn’t clear just how badly the effects will be. Although you can’t predict the future, you can try to offset impacts in advance.

To offset impacts in advance, consider what the most disastrous element of a cybersecurity threat would be. For example, if a successful DDOS attack were to bring your website down and prevent customers from making transactions, how could you minimize downtime? Or, if a data breach results in highly sensitive information leaking elsewhere, what steps can you take to reduce the impact on your clients?

For most businesses, the biggest impact of a cybersecurity disaster is financial. On average, breached client records cost an organization $150 for each one. In the healthcare industry, the cost rises to $429. You may benefit from identifying potential costs to your business during a disaster and then consider ways to prevent or reduce them.

When examining how cybersecurity and disaster recovery intersect, always create a solid plan. If your business encounters any changes, ensure you update your plan accordingly. It’s always worth reviewing your plan as time goes on too, so you can make sure you’re abreast of the latest threats.

ISG Technology Announces Project RecognITion on National IT Professionals Day

Overland Park, KS, September 17, 2019 (Newswire.com) – ISG Technology announced today that it is launching Project RecognITion – A salute to the heroes of modern business. The initiative seeks to honor the IT professionals who work tirelessly to keep businesses productive, connected and secure.

Starting September 17th, coworkers, end-users and executives across the Midwest are being encouraged to visit ProjectRecognITion.biz to nominate the IT professionals that go above and beyond for their organizations. Nominees will be honored during the month of October in a variety of ways including a series of celebration events across five Midwest cities.

“Our team works alongside and supports some really talented IT professionals at the organizations we serve,” said ISG CEO Ben Foster. “Project RecognITion is our way of helping the business community see who some of these hard working individuals are.”

The initiative launches on National IT Professionals Day – a holiday that started four years ago to bring awareness to the important role IT professionals play in today’s world. The holiday is observed every third Tuesday in September, and utilizes #ITProDay on social media to drive awareness.

“We love the idea behind IT Pro Day so much that we decided to take it to a whole new level,” continued Foster. “We’re looking forward to hearing the stories people will share about their IT superheroes.”

Foster also added that Project RecognITion is supported by many of ISG’s strategic partners including Veeam, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Aruba, Nimble Storage and Western Digital. Online nominations will be open until Friday October 4th at ProjectRecognITion.biz.

For media inquiries:
Scott Strickler​
sstrickler@isgtech.com
913.826.6058

What UCaaS Is, and All The Things It Covers

Just based on the language, unified communications seems pretty simple to understand. Bringing all of your communications under one provider umbrella is a smart, cost-saving idea that isn’t inherently new. Delivering this as a service is also familiar (UCaaS), perhaps more so than with other online IT solutions. But UCaaS encompasses much more than just the obvious phone, text, and email communication methods. There’s so much more to UCaaS.

What is UCaaS?

Think of all the ways a business communicates daily. Even inside an office, people call each other, email back and forth, and maybe send instant messages to each other. Larger companies with more disparate workforces might also utilize video conferencing and video calls.

The purpose of UCaaS is to make communication between companies and clients simpler. It brings all the various communication methods that companies use under one service provider; that provider often manages the implementation and upkeep of the communication solution as well.

If you can imagine a way to get in touch with a client or coworker, the odds are good that a top-notch UCaaS company can make it happen for you.

What are the major components of UCaaS?

  • VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol is nothing new, but its rapid adoption as an enterprise level telephony solution is. From either end of the connect, a VoIP call isn’t inherently different from a regular phone call; what’s different is the method of communication. Instead of information being transmitted through an old-fashioned landline, data packets are transmitted from one end of the call to the other through internet connections. This is similar to how your cell phone works, but it also gives businesses multi-line solutions that can be tied to desk phones. And, it gives users the option to log into their accounts from anywhere in the world to make a call. Say goodbye to long distance phone call costs; with more than 80% of Americans owning a smartphone, your workers are already primed to adopt this technology.
  • Conferencing – Web, audio, or video conferencing are great ways to connect offices around the world, bring teleworkers into a conversation without needing them in the office, and more. High quality conferencing systems allow for many different users in a single meeting, let you record the meeting for later use or reference, highlight speakers, and more.
  • Messaging, Email, and Texting – The vast majority of individuals have their smartphones in their hands more often than not. This means your employees can be reached by text, messaging, or email. The same is true for your customers and clients. In fact, many customers would prefer to get a text or start a chat with a company rather than call them – yet few businesses offer this opportunity. UCaaS can help you make this a feasible business option.
  • Integrated Communications – This is one of the newer and more exciting features of UCaaS. Your UC software can mesh with your CRM programs to pull up customer data as you’re talking. AI based on previous recorded calls can give you crucial information about the customer on the line and let you know how to best address their needs.
  • Flexibility – UCaaS companies are aware that your business isn’t static, and the best companies are ready to grow with you. Many management businesses offer the ability to choose the services you need, then add on as your business expands. Companies aren’t one-size-fits-all, and neither are their communications needs. Great UCaaS companies understand that.

Instead of relying on half a dozen different programs and systems to keep your business connected, bring all of your communications under one united umbrella. You’ll be glad you did.  

The Most Important Types of Recovery Sites For Business

The worst disaster recovery plan a business can have is no disaster recovery plan at all. Business disasters come in many forms, from digital attacks to power outages to natural disasters. According to government statistics, 40% of the businesses that shut down due to a natural disaster never reopen, and of those that do reopen, 25% fail within a year. It’s impractical to say that every one of those businesses would have survived with a viable disaster recovery plan, but it’s absolutely reasonable to say that strong disaster recovery plans help keep companies open and minimize losses during and after disasters.

When we talk about different disaster recovery options, there are three types of recovery sites that you should know about: hot, cold, and warm sites.

Hot sites

A hot recovery site is basically a fully functioning replication of your current business data. All servers and networks are in place, all data is available, and in some cases, you even have office space available. Should disaster strike your primary location, all you have to do is get people to your secondary location and you’re back to business.

Cold sites

A cold site is, logically, the opposite of a hot site. It has no infrastructure in place and no data backups. In some cases, it’s just rented office space that has tech capabilities and temperature control. To get up and running in a cold site, you would have to bring in hardware, connect it, and reinstall data and programs.

Warm sites

A warm site is somewhere in the middle of these two options. It may have some infrastructure in place, but your data would need to be brought in and the site would need to be brought up to full speed before you would be able to resume business operations.

What’s right for your business?

Choosing what type of site is appropriate for your business has a lot to do with how much downtime your company can tolerate. For many tech-centric online companies, any amount of downtime is unacceptable. Some companies calculate the cost of their downtime as more than half a million dollars an hour. If a day of downtime costs more than running an expensive hot site, a hot site is still a reasonable cost.

If your business can tolerate being out of commission for a day or two, however, using a cold site might be completely appropriate. A warm site can also be a good hybrid approach, where certain mission critical operations are ready to go in just a few hours if necessary, but the bulk of business operations will be available within a day or so.

Whatever type of disaster recovery site you choose, make sure it’s located in an appropriate space. Having a hot site set up in your building, or even on the other side of town, isn’t safe or useful for your business. Your site should be far enough away that a physical disaster – a hurricane, major flood, or a power outage, for example – at your primary location won’t affect your recovery site.

The speed at which you can recover cloud-based information can also play a role in choosing what type of recovery site is appropriate for you. After all, if you’re basically running your business through virtual machines in cloud operations, all you need is an active internet connection and a viable computer to get back to business; no transporting of tape backups required.

If you’re not sure what type of disaster recovery site is best for your business, the right choice is to consult with an expert in disaster recovery. They can help you figure out what’s mission critical for your business, how much downtime you can tolerate, and the best way to get your business running again in the event of a disaster.