Info Exchange's Blog - Innovation Starts From Within
Info Exchange's Blog - What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There
Info Exchange's Blog - A Cultural Shift In Jamaica’s Business Landscape: It’s Happening Now!
Info Exchange's Blog - Cybersecurity Cannot Be Left To Chance
Info Exchange's Blog - The Hybrid Organization: The future of business
Info Exchange's Blog - Rethinking Business Operations for this new world
Info Exchange's Blog - 4 Lessons the Pandemic Taught Businesses
Info Exchange's Blog - Business IT Resilience: Beyond Disaster Recovery
Info Exchange's Blog - 3 Ways to Keep Your Team Safe While Using Email
Info Exchange's Blog - This Billion Dollar Industry Should Be Giving Jamaican CEOs Nightmares
Info Exchange's Blog - Unlock the Value of your Data with Simplified Database Management
Info Exchange's Blog - Modern Infrastructure For Better End-User Experiences
Info Exchange's Blog - Innovation Can’t Wait - Take the Faster Route to Cloud
Info Exchange's Blog - Knowing Your RTO & RPO Could Save Your Company $Millions
Info Exchange's Blog - International Agri-business Boosts Employee Productivity, Efficiency, and Business Agility
Info Exchange's Blog - Automation: The True Allure of the Cloud
Info Exchange's Blog - Hybrid Cloud: The Best of Both Worlds
Info Exchange's Blog - Making the Move to O365?
Info Exchange's Blog - The Best O365 Experience for Businesses - See for yourself!
Info Exchange's Blog - Office 365 Comparison Chart 2018
Info Exchange's Blog - Forward Looking CEOs have SDX on the Brain
Info Exchange's Blog - Business Uninterrupted
Info Exchange's Blog - Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Agile,  Non-Stop IT Operations
Info Exchange's Blog - ShareSync ... Defence Against Ransomware? You bet it is!
Info Exchange's Blog - Layered Security Can be Tricky
Info Exchange's Blog - Ensuring Website Security Throughout Development
Info Exchange's Blog - Three Ways Your Business Can Benefit from Mobile Device Management
Info Exchange's Blog - Bare Metal Restoration… Is It For You?
Info Exchange's Blog - Is Your Anti-Virus Still Relevant?
Info Exchange's Blog - Layered Security: Protecting your Data – your Most Precious Asset
Info Exchange's Blog - Hospitality Industry a Prime Target for Cyber Criminals
Info Exchange's Blog - Move Your Business Email to the Cloud
Info Exchange's Blog - Three Ways to Protect Your Business from Cyber Attacks
Info Exchange's Blog - Protecting Critical Systems from Compromise
Info Exchange's Blog - Protect Sensitive Data with Layered Security
Info Exchange's Blog - Communication is Key to Business Success
Info Exchange's Blog - Your Traditional Anti-Virus is no longer adequate – it’s a fact.
Info Exchange's Blog - Jamaica is Now Firmly in the Sights of Cyber Criminals
Info Exchange's Blog - Compromised Email – The True Value of Your Account
Info Exchange's Blog - Four Mitigation Strategies for Endpoint Security
Info Exchange's Blog - Is your Antivirus System Outdated?
Info Exchange's Blog - The Internet of Things (IoT) Impact on Cyber Security
Info Exchange's Blog - Next Generation Antivirus – Time for an Upgrade
Info Exchange's Blog - Leveraging the ‘Power’ of the Modern Data Centre
Info Exchange's Blog - Choosing the Best Managed Security Service Provider
Info Exchange's Blog - Protecting Your Business from Malicious Email
Info Exchange's Blog - The Importance of Server Backups
Info Exchange's Blog - The Importance of Corporate Email Protection: Part Two
Info Exchange's Blog - 5 Reasons Why Your Online Business Needs Secure Web Hosting
Info Exchange's Blog - The Importance of Corporate Email Protection
Info Exchange's Blog - Backup + Restore - Online vs Tape: SECURITY
Info Exchange's Blog - Backup + Restore – Online vs Tape: EASE OF USE
Info Exchange's Blog - Backup + Restore – Online vs Tape: The Cost Factor
Info Exchange's Blog - Preventing a Ransomware Infection
Info Exchange's Blog - Beware the LOCKY Virus – the latest Ransomware hitting Jamaica
Info Exchange's Blog - Online Backup …or Tape? Which stacks up better.
Info Exchange's Blog - DataVAULT Backup & Restore…Easy as 3-2-1
Info Exchange's Blog - Identity Access Management | ConnectID
Info Exchange's Blog - HD Video Conferencing as-a-Service – One Click Away
Info Exchange's Blog - Your Email could be at Risk: Part 3 Solution
Info Exchange's Blog - What Makes Up the “New Standard” in Business Email?
Info Exchange's Blog - Your Email could be at risk: Part 2
Info Exchange's Blog - Lets Talk about the “New Standard” for Business Email
Info Exchange's Blog - What’s Wrong with the Old Email System
Info Exchange's Blog - Embrace the New Email Standards
Info Exchange's Blog - Your Email Could Be at Risk: Part 1
Info Exchange's Blog - When The Server Is Down Everyone Knows!
Info Exchange's Blog - 5 reasons why costly file servers are a relic of the past
Info Exchange's Blog - Replace your File Server and save over US$19,000… We can prove it!
Info Exchange's Blog - 99.999% vs 99.9% Uptime
Info Exchange's Blog - It’s a good time to have your head in the Cloud
Info Exchange's Blog - Cyber Crime:  A look into the mind of a Hacker
Info Exchange's Blog - Time’s Up Folks!
Info Exchange's Blog - Don’t Let Hackers Get The Better of You
Info Exchange's Blog - Winning A Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit
Info Exchange's Blog - Email Archiving & Continuity
Info Exchange's Blog - 4 Key Questions you should ask any eMail Provider
Info Exchange's Blog - Hybrid Cloud: The Best of Both Worlds
Info Exchange's Blog - Creating an Effective IT Plan
Info Exchange's Blog - Hybrid Cloud: The Best of both Worlds
Info Exchange's Blog - Creating An Effective IT Plan

The Age of Always On Business: IT Resilience In A Cloud-First World

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Today's consumers want a smooth, anytime business experience. System disruptions and the downtime it causes can ruin the experience for consumers and staff alike. An Always-On model of operations ensures resilience and business continuity so that your operations keep going no matter what.

 

Continuous Operations- The Cornerstone of Modern Business Operations

In this fast-paced, cloud- first and demand-driven economy, customers want to be able to conduct business, not just anywhere, but at any time. The increasingly dominant role of the internet and technology in business, means businesses need to be always on in order to serve their clients. We have long evolved past the city that never sleeps, nowadays it is the whole world that runs on the 24/7 model.

The raison d’être of every business is to satisfy the demands and expectations of their users, both internal and external. Businesses must pivot in order to meet these demands. They no longer fit the traditional, 9-5, Monday to Friday model. Customers expect to be able to access goods, services and information instantaneously, this means that downtime can cost businesses money and more importantly clients.

What Are Continuous Operations?

In this new 24/7 model, continuous operations are a necessity for survival for most businesses. But what exactly does continuous operations mean?  We all know that there will be disruptions in business, some planned, others not so. What is important is the way in which business respond to these disruptions. The old school approach of backup & recovery, even when done as efficiently as possible, very often means that business activities come to a halt.

On the flipside, continuous operations means that the end-user remains blissfully unaware that these disruptions. System upgrades can be carried out with users none the wiser until they are able to enjoy the benefit of additional functionality and improved user experience that come as a result.  

Continuous Operations Require Resilience

That is IT Resilience- core operations of a business continuing to run even in the event of a disruption. Being IT resilient means being prepared for any type of disruption – planned or unplanned – to mitigate the risk of downtime so your focus remains on projects that drive productivity and business transformation. 

As harsh as it seems, consumers don’t care that you are experiencing a business disruption, they don’t care that your system is down. Businesses are expected to run, no matter what. And if they can’t get service from you, they will move on to your competitors. Consumer demand is what drives the economy and businesses must meet this expectation. They must be resilient. An Always-On environment requires businesses to adopt modern systems and technologies to ensure that they stay in the game. 

Can your IT systems withstand a disruption? Do you have the systems in place to be Always On?

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Innovation Starts From Within

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With the accelerated pace of change in the world of business, organizations need to innovate in order to remain relevant. Some tools for innovation you may need to source, others are already at your fingertips.

By Keimo Edwards

 

Innovate or Get Left Behind

Today, businesses are far more dependent on technology than in the past. And as we go into the future this dependency will only increase as more and more businesses use technology to interact with customers and stay ahead of competitors. Adapting to new technologies often plays a huge role in whether your business lives or dies, whether a customer buys your product or not.

Innovation and technological advancements will decide if your competitor tops you or not. Everyone knows of cases such as Blackberry, Blockbuster, and Nokia- these brands are no longer around simply because they were slow to innovate and adopt new technology. Their customers’ needs grew beyond what they were offering. If you don’t focus on innovation, this could be your business.

Consumer demand drives market changes, but technology is what is responsible for accelerating them. Technology is changing at a rate that can only be compared to the fluctuations of the Jamaican dollar. So you may be wondering, how does a business focus on business and keep up with the rate of constant change?

Technology Has Changed The Way We Innovate

To answer that question, let us take a quick look back in time. Technology, at one time, was very capital intensive and complex. The legacy data centre, for example, was complicated and required specialists in each section- a server guy, a storage guy, and a network guy. Typically, these specialists lost many a night and weekend, trying to fix some issue or the other with the data centre.

Today, complex legacy infrastructure has been replaced with intelligent cloud- based systems that streamline IT operations and delivers them on a single platform. With this simplified approach, you no longer need several specialists to keep your infrastructure going. Your  team now has room to focus on what matter most –  innovation. 

You Already Have The Recources To Innovate

Let me let you in on a little secret, you already have the resources to innovate. He/she is probably plugging in someone’s computer right now. Yes, the secret is your underutilized human assets. Don’t believe me? Put it to the test. Think of a challenge you are facing, not directly technology related, and ask your IT Team to come up with a solution and see what happens. 

Your IT department has the drive and passion to add value to your business if given the opportunity. Rather than spending their time putting out fires-scampering to fix emails, turning on projectors and connecting PC power cords, they should be solving operational and business problems like speeding up processes, creating new products, and developing new business and distribution channels.

Taking your business to the next level requires innovation. Embrace it!

 

Keimo Edwards is an Account Manager at Info Exchange Ltd

kedwards@infoexchangeja.com

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What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There

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Many changes have taken place in the worlds of business and technology in the last 25 years. As a result of these changes, the approaches of yesterday don't necessarily work today.

 

What got you here, won’t necessarily get you there. Those are some strong words to consider, especially in this rapidly changing world. This is one of the key lessons we, here at Info Exchange, have learnt in our 25 years of existence as a business efficiency consulting firm, where we use technology to deliver business outcomes and improve the efficiency of our customers. Back in the early days when we started people didn’t know what the internet was, and cloud wasn’t even a concept then. Today, however, I can scarcely have a conversation where Cloud isn’t discussed. So, the approaches of the past simply aren’t as effective today. The world is constantly and rapidly changing, and businesses must change with it in order to survive.  

Much has changed in 25 years

Over the years we have observed inflection points in the market which force you to rethink right down to the fundamentals of your business. Seismic shifts are happening right now, driven by changes in consumer behaviour and demand, and not necessarily by technology.Technology is really an enabler and not a cause of these changes.  

Suppose you could go back 25 years and try to explain to your younger self the concept of a YouTube blogger and that you could make a decent living from it. How would you explain it and how do you think you would respond? The point is that so much has changed and it continues to do so at a faster and faster rate. But the approaches you took in the past may not be as effective in today’s world. 

I say this with a bit of frustration as I see datacentres still be implemented based on older technology and old thinking. In the past IT departments were all about keeping the lights on and outing fires. Businesses saw technology more for task automation and time savings, but today it is about transforming the business to operate digitally. Operating models are now defined and enabled through technology. IT Department should no longer be fire fighters, but innovators that are going to guide the business on how to leverage their technology to create shareholder value.  

Go Software Defined

The world has changed; and will continue to change at a faster and faster rate, businesses will be challenged to keep up. IT teams should use their time for more high value tasks such as product creation and delivery innovations using software defined technology.  

But to do this effectively, businesses must start with the right software defined platform. With Nutanix HCI (Hyperconverged Infrastructure) the intelligence is in the software and the hardware becomes more of a commodity appliance where the customer can now choose which supported hardware they want. No more vendor lock-in.  

With Nutanix self-healing, software-defined datacentre, the infrastructure now becomes invisible, and virtually self-managing. This platform creates the freedom and the leverage that IT teams need to create the agility and innovation needed for the business to compete. 

 

 

David Allen

CEO, Info Exchange Ltd

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A Cultural Shift In Jamaica’s Business Landscape: It’s Happening Now!

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As technology continues to drive consumer demand, Jamaican businesses must change their mindset and go digital in order to keep up 

Undel Williams, CIO at Info Exchange, said to me “Digital transformation is a journey and not a destination”. And there is an Abraham Lincoln quote that says, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality.”

Now you may be saying to yourself, “What is the overlap between the words of a CIO and one of the most popular US presidents in history?” You see, in order to begin digitally transforming your organization, there must be a commitment at the highest levels of leadership to look for opportunities to fundamentally change and improve how businesses operate and deliver value to customers.

To Go Digital, Transform Your Mindset

Whether it is changes in service delivery, data security, business continuity or productivity, in the modern world of business, we must rethink some of the norms and standard practices which are culturally inherent to business. This is to ensure that we can keep up with the rapidly accelerating digital transformation trend taking place in Jamaica and indeed across the world.

Digital transformation goes beyond simply computerizing your operations. Yes, you have bought the computers. Yes, you paid for the software. You might even have highly trained staff to use it, but are your operations systemized and optimized to perform in this new world being driven by technology? Digital transformation is the use of technology to create or revise business processes, culture, and customer experiences in order to easily adapt to changes in the market and thereby enabling your business to grow in this digital world.

If you expect that an upgrade of your digital systems will directly translate to digital transformation, then you misunderstand the essence of the transformation and you stand to lose some of the benefits associated with this journey. It is not enough to simply replace non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or even to just replace older technology with newer technology.

By now, you may have thought back to how your business has approached the changes in the world and you might have gotten a bit panicky. However, not to worry. If you are committed to embarking on this journey, then you too can still make the shift. It’s not too late!

Things Are Changing

Here in Jamaica, we say it if ain’t broke don’t fix it, however that does not work in today’s business reality. Can we definitively say it isn’t broken? So many changes have occurred in the business landscape, but we still use approaches and technology from decades past. Can we say with absolute certainty that our organizations are optimized for the digital transformation and are working as efficiently as possible when we are still unable to pivot to changes in the marketplace, easily expand operations to new markets, or even manoeuvre the world of ecommerce?

You must constantly be in step with the changes happening in business in order to remain relevant. Therefore, a cultural evolution is needed to reform the way we integrate technology into our business processes. Our markets are no longer just our neighbourhoods but are now the whole world. You have to think big when trying to grow your business and leverage technology to get you there. 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic are perfect examples of what can happen when you have to rethink everything.

Undeniably, if you had already been on a path to digital transformation pre-covid, that would have helped to ease the adjustment to the “new normal”. However, there are many examples of businesses that hopped on this wave or accelerated their digital transformation when the pandemic hit. Tele-medicine took off as doctors used technology to serve their patients. Lawyers started accepting digitally signed documents. Banks, at long last, allowed for accounts to be opened outside of the branch. This happened because the C-suite in these organizations assessed how it was that they could do things differently thereby increasing their service level to customers and increasing their market share even in this time of crisis.

Recently, parliament passed the Data Protection Act of 2020 which aims to safeguard the privacy and personal information of Jamaicans when conducting business online. If that is not a sign of the changing business landscape, then I don’t know what is. Jamaican companies will now have to put digital systems in place to adequately facilitate the requirements of this new law. It’s not a question of if, but when. This too is a part of the process of digital transformation. So, in the next couple of years as public education takes hold, expect that most business transactions will be done online. This opens the door to a crocus bag of possibilities.

Rethink Everything

We’ve seen many of the digitally mature businesses latch on and avail themselves to the augmentation of digital transformation brought about by the pandemic, and you should too! It is now up to business leaders, small and large alike, to get creative and gaze upon the future where business is driven by changing consumer behaviour and accelerated by technology.

There’s a technological solution for every purpose nowadays from virtual assistant AIs to software defined data centres, and everything in between. The possibilities are endless. In order to be a part of the race, you first have to get on the track. How can digital transformation drive your business? Think outside the box and dream a little nuh?

 

This blog was carried in The Gleaner on April 1, 2021 under the title To go digital, transform your mindset.

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Cybersecurity Cannot Be Left To Chance

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Letter to the Editor by CEO of Info Exchange, David Allen (Carried in the Jamaica Gleaner Monday, February 22, 2021)

In this digital age, data security cannot simply be a bolt-on checklist item, it must be something that is practiced from the start.

Breaches are often due to fundamental oversight

In this past week, Jamaica has been rocked by the discovery of a data breach, which was reported by noted American technology publication TechCrunch. Security breaches are, unfortunately, not uncommon in today’s digital world and can happen to anyone at any time. We cannot stop them completely, but we can put measures in place to reduce the attack surface and to readily identify breaches so that remedial measures can be taken. In cases like this, breaches are often due to a fundamental oversight, this being the tendency to overlook the importance of secure coding and development best practices for the sake of lower costs. 

Cybersecurity requires a change of mindset

This mindset comes from the fact that leadership have not connected the dots between operational risk and the technology implemented. Adequate oversight and a comprehensive understanding of what is at risk, why specific data must be collected, or who needs it, is fundamental. Security should start with the answers, and justifications, to these questions. In this digital age, data security cannot simply be a bolt-on checklist item, it must be something that is practiced from  the start. 

Change starts from the top

Before getting into issues of development and/or software coding practices, leaders must clearly understand that data governance is a set of practical and actionable principles and practices that ensure quality through the complete data lifecycle. This allows the various stakeholders to identify and manage perceived risks based on the probability of a breach and severity of loss. Leadership still thinks of security in physical terms, and this does not necessarily translate to digital assets.

Often, IT is thrown under the bus, but the problem starts with leadership. The lack of coherent policies and governance within the organisation to protect data and privacy will ultimately lead to lapses in security. The journey to a digitally mature organisation is just that, a journey. Missteps will be made, but we must nevertheless take a systemic approach to data governance supported by technology.

There are no shortcuts. We have the opportunity to make Jamaica a fully digital society. It is something we can achieved if the right mindset is adopted.

 

Highlights

  • Security breaches can happen to anyone at anytime.
  • While they cannot completely be avoided, measures can be put in place to reduce the severity of the attacks
  • The tendency to overlook the importance of secure coding and development best practices for the sake of lower costs play a siginificant role in these breaches.
  • Leaders must change how they approach cybersecurity.
  • Change starts in the C-suite.
  • Leaders must have a comprehensive understanding of the link between the tech used and operational risks. 
  • Data security is not a checklist item, but a practice.
  • Data governance as a set of practical and actionable principles and practices that ensure quality through the complete data lifecycle.
  • Physical security does not necessarily translate to digital assets.
  • Coherent policies and governance is needed to protect data and privacy and prevent lapses in security.
  • We must take a systemic approach to data governance supported by technology.

David Allen, CEO- Info Exchange

 

 

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The Hybrid Organization: The future of business

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As changes and disruptions have caused businesses to alter their operating model, a new, hybrid business model has now taken shape.

 

The World of Business has changed

Recent disruptions have shattered the paradigm of traditional, in-office and 9-5 work. Today, with the world upended by COVID, remote work has become the norm. Employees are now working from anywhere and are no longer behind the corporate firewall.  Thus, unless appropriately guided, organisations will be left to the vagrancies of the internet and a world in flux. Businesses cannot just create a structure for the present, but instead need to create an operating model that keep up with future disruptions. 

While recent events and technological advancements have accelerated the speed of change, these changes didn't just begin in 2020. The rise of cloud computing in the mid-2000s, has gradually moved datacentres from on-prem to the cloud and now to software-defined IT infrastructure solutions. 

 

Not only is infrastructure changing but now customers’ desire to interact with businesses from home has increased especially as they seek to limit physical interactions. This also extends to employees. In the past, corporate security centred around physical locations. Today, with stakeholders scattered in various locations, security must follow digital assets. From this, hybrid organizations have emerged. 

The Future is Hybrid

Hybrid organizations emphasize responsiveness, collaboration, user-centrism, and speed by using technology to drive business outcomes and growth. Business leaders must realise that these attributes aren’t just buzz words, but rather the tools for survival. 

The future is hybrid and organizations must invest in the technology to get them there. Secure Internet Access from Zscaler protects your users working remotely by providing a secure internet gateway to access data and applications.  Also, Zscaler Secure Remote Access provides a safer, simpler, and more user-friendly alternative to traditional VPNs by adopting a Zero Trust approach that allows users to access only the data that you want them to. Nutanix’s multi-cloud infrastructure with Hyperconverged Infrastructure gives companies the flexibility to develop and roll out new capabilities quickly and easily, merge the benefits of public and private clouds and modernize their datacentres to better keep up with the speed of business today.

The next normal requires innovative thinking. Info Exchange, a leading IT consulting firm operating at the intersection of business and technology, offers cloud first business efficiency solutions to prepare today’s hybrid organizations for the future.  To get your business securely on the right path, contact Info Exchange at 876-931-9552 or email us at mybusiness@infoexchangeja.com.

 

Highlights

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Rethinking Business Operations for this new world

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As changes in consumer behaviour continue to drive advances in technology, businesses must rethink the way they operate in order to keep up with demand

Consumer behaviour is changing

Try as we may to avoid it, change is one of life’s constants. Ironic isn’t it?  Over the years, significant changes in consumer behaviour have driven advances in technology. The latest generation of tech seeks to transform the way consumers discover, engage, and buy. Businesses, accounting for changing expectations for customer experience, can no longer operate a 9 to 5 model as consumers no longer want to be served the way they were before. After all, businesses, no matter the nature, exist to serve their customers. 

Technology driving scalability and growth

In a world where the client is king, changing consumer behaviour often equates to rising demand, not just for goods and services but also for information. Businesses must optimize their processes to account for this while creating value and increasing efficiency. The ability to scale operations to meet these changes is especially paramount. Technology is pivotal to this growth as without it, it is impossible to scale exponentially.  Businesses must be able to grow without being hampered by an inflexible IT infrastructure and operational model.  Instead, goals should be a scalable and self-healing system that ensures reliable operations and an “always on” environment; enabling companies to focus on delivering value through innovation rather than struggling to maintain and manage outdated IT systems.

Rethinking business continuity and data security 

Organizations must reconsider the concept of business continuity in dealing with disruptions, planned or unplanned.  They must move past the idea of simply backup and recovery and embrace the concept of continuous operations in a 24/7 economy where business never stops.

Today, digital assets are like oxygen for business. As employees are accessing digital assets – data and applications, from outside of your firewall, internet security should be front and centre for CEOs. Protection of these assets requires a strong and agile security infrastructure that protects the company not only for today, but for a changing world.

The pace of change has accelerated. To thrive, businesses must be agile and flexible enough to adapt. Rethinking the way your business operates is a matter of survival. How will you rise to the challenge? To prepare your business for this new world, contact Info Exchange at 876-931-9552 or email us at mybusiness@infoexchangeja.com.

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4 Lessons the Pandemic Taught Businesses

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Whew! 2020 has been quite an adventure (to say the least!). Fortunately, we have made it to the end, probably not completely unscathed, but in one piece to some degree. That means it's time for some introspection. The events of 2020 tested the limits of businesses and organisations especially as life seemingly ground to a halt in the first quarter of the year.

Even though we now see a light at the end of the tunnel with the Covid19 vaccine, businesses have to remain vigilant in order to be able to parry any blows 2021 may send their way.  How businesses operate will never be the same, and in this new year the focus has got to be on restructuring to be able to thrive in this new 2021 world.  Looking back at 2020 we have learned a lot.  Here are 4 essential lessons 2020 taught us, that businesses should definitely take with them into 2021. 

Stay Resilient  

Remember right around March when it seemed like the whole world came to a screeching halt?  Everyone was confined to their homes. Businesses had to close. And only the most essential services continued to operate. It came as a shock to us all and it definitely took some adjusting to.  Many businesses incurred significant losses due to this disruption.  Whether it is a pandemic, a cyber attack or a system upgrade that went wrong, being down for any time is no longer acceptable.  The term "always on"  is not an fantasy concept that can't be achieved.  It is infact very achieveable and more so a demand by consumers today.  You cannot afford the downtime, the world will keep chugging along and if you don’t put the right measures in place, it will move on without you.   Take the time in 2021 to explore how to achieve IT Resilience, that is  where your business  is able to withstand disruptions, planned or unplanned, and still continue to function.

Stay Agile 

image of man jumping over hurdleCovid-19 came as a shock to us all. Despite the time it took to get to our side of the world, many businesses were still wholly unprepared when it struck. The pandemic forced a lot of businesses onto the path of digital transformation....and others to accelerate their journey.  Companies who were already on the path to digital transformation were able to easily make the requisite structural changes and therefore rebounded far quicker than those who were immature in their digital transformation.   This speaks to operational agility, where businesses can quickly pivot and respond to deviations from the norm while gaining or maintaining a competitive advantage.  This business agility is achievable only through digital transformation.  Digitally immature companies are going to be challenged in this new world.

 

Stay Secure 

With added online interactions came the issue of cybersecurity. Businesses also had to rethink the way in which they secured their data. Users are now out in the wild of the internet and no longer safely behind corporate firewalls. This has left companies susceptible to aggressive cyber threats which have skyrocketed over the course of the year. Going into the new year and beyond businesses must reconceptualize the idea of security. Is it on premises? Is it the cloud? Is it a hybrid? Jamaica recently passed a Data Protection Act similar to the GDPR in Europe. As online interactions increase, companies need to now ensure that personal data is secure and handled according to the law.  Threats will evolve but so must the approaches used to tackle them. Companies need to think outside the box of traditional data security, securing users wherever they go and on whatever device they are on.  It can be done.    

Stay Responsive

The words Work from Anywhere were the buzzwords of 2020. In the blink of an eye, work was no longer somewhere you went but something you did. With the majority of us being confined to our homes for obscene amounts of time, the challenge at the beginning of the year was to figure out how to maintain productivity despite the distance. That’s where technology came into play as collaborative software such as Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and ShareSync became the holy grail. Despite the novelty of the situation, it seems to be going well as Forbes reported that there had been a 47% increase in worker productivity in the period March to May. Will this meteoric rise continue even after the pandemic? It could be so. Going forward into 2021, businesses should seek to maintain the flexibility provided by the various technology solutions that increases a company's responsiveness to  environmental changes while still optimising its productivity.  

Overall, 2020 taught us that change is constant. Now more than ever, these changes are occurring at an unprecedented pace.  If you thought the future of business was digital before, the new health guidelines which have become standard in 2020, have made this even more so. In the race to stay ahead of the competition IT resilience, operational agility and  cybersecurity  are key. Are we going use infrastructure investment to support the old paradigm or will we invest in this new world? Don’t let 2021 catch your business dragging its feet.  

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Business IT Resilience: Beyond Disaster Recovery

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The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation in society. But in today's world, is backup and recovery enough?

Mobile connectivity and Social media have created a hungry monster that businesses are trying hard to feed. Today’s consumers demand an Always-On experience, and they want to be served immediately or else they find an alternative. It is no wonder that CEOs are consumed with digitally transforming their businesses. Information technology is front and centre for service delivery, and COVID19 has heightened its importance more than it has ever before.  

Businesses are now looking at possible ways to have their knowledge workers perform their work from home. Many are finding it challenging because their organization is not digitally transformed.  So if your business hasn’t yet ventured on this journey of digital transformation, time has caught up with you.  If you wait any longer, you run the risk of being unable to function in a post-COVID world.  But simply digitally transforming your organization is only one half of the equation.

The Road to True Digital Transformation

Let look at this more closely.  So you have gone to great pains to digitally transform the core systems of your business.  You have purchased and successfully integrated all the applications that your IT Team has identified that will make your systems work efficiently.  As a result your business processes are running quickly and smoothly. Congratulations! 

But are you ready when your system fails?  We all know that system failure is not an ‘if’, but rather it’s a ‘when’.  To be truly digitally transformed you also have to be IT Resilient.  That means that even in the face of a system failure, you are able to continue operating. 

Is Backup & Recovery Enough?

Normally, C-suite would say to us that their IT team does a backup. That is, creating and storing copies of data so that they can be accessible in case of a system failure).  Most companies back up once per day, usually at the end of a workday; and in businesses of yesteryear this would have been the gold standard. During that period, customers had no expectation of doing business after 5 pm nor were the number of transactions at the level that they are today. 

Let’s work through an example. So your IT Team backed up at 6 pm today.  Work starts at 8 am the next day and the system fails at 4 pm.  You have now lost almost 7 hours of system work as well as information.  If your business has a high rate of transactions, this could be in the thousands of transactions. Even if you are able to restore the system to your previous date (i.e 6pm yesterday). It will take you hours or days to organize and re-enter the data that was lost so that the system can be ready for normal operations. Let’s look even deeper still.  For the time that your team is restore normal operations,  your staff that is dependent on those systems has essentially been twiddling their thumbs; yet you still have to pay them for that time.  How much has that costed the company?  Presumably, if your system is down, your customers are unable to transact business with you, and possibly more dangerous is that your customers are now upset with your company and have decided to consume someone else’s services.  As you can see the costs, real dollar costs, take on a cascading effect. The cost of downtime is not only the cost to resume normal operations but you will also realise productivity loss, opportunity cost of lost business, as well as possible damage to the brand.  In fact, research has shown that many small businesses never recover after a significant system failure.  

Why Always On?

So in today’s context of being ‘Always On’ recovery is not good enough, because being down is no longer acceptable. Businesses must think in term of continuity – where your systems and applications that service your critical processes are able to continue operating even when there is a planned or unplanned interruption – i.e upgrades, virus attack, act of God or plain human error.      

This new ‘always-on’ mode in the global economy has taken root. Customers expect it. Economies are thriving from it. Businesses are quickly transitioning to this. We all have to retool for it.  The take-away for the day is that in today’s world business no longer have the luxury of being down.  CEO’s have already recognized the importance of Business Resilience.  Now the C-level need to jump in and put in the resources to ensure IT Resilience, because IT Resilience is at the very core of Business Resilience.  

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3 Ways to Keep Your Team Safe While Using Email

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With the increase in the number of remote workers and heightened internet activity, there are those who are intent on causing harm.

Malware infections, URL spoofing, Phishing and social engineering. You name it. Cyber threats are at an all-time high.

Even here at Info Exchange, we were recently targeted with URL spoofing – where persons received an email from a fictitious ‘infoexchange’ email account.  Fortunately, our MailEssentials service engaged its URL Re-write tool (a handy tool to have), to quickly identify and disarm the threat before any damage was done. 

We’re sharing this information with you to emphasize the harsh reality that no one is immune from these attacks. Emails are well known as a vector for the delivery of malware, and our SaaS solutions provide multilayer support and will help mitigate against most of today’s modern attacks.  But even with top tier protection in place, one can never be too careful.

Below are 3 email security tips that we encourage you to use and share with your teams.


Carefully Examine All Emails that You Receive

Just because an email looks like it’s coming from a trusted source doesn’t mean that it’s clean.

If you see a suspicious email in your inbox, whether it’s unexpected or making a strange request, you should confirm with the “sender” that they are in fact getting in touch with you or requesting something from you.

In addition to checking that the emails you receive are legitimate, be sure not to send sensitive information like login passwords and credit card details via email.


Always Double Check the URL in the Email Address to Ensure its Validity

Too often people get caught with cyber-attacks via email because they just look at the name associated with the email address and not at the actual email address itself. Start making it a habit to check the actual email address of the sender whenever you get an email.

There are some emails that are dead giveaways that this may be a phishing scam or some other type of attack. But be sure to pay close attention to the nuances of the email.

If you know that your company, or the company of the person you’re communicating with, maintains a particular naming convention for their emails (for example, “johndoe@companyname.com”), be sure to keep an eye out for any differences in the addresses of the emails that reach your inbox (for example, “john.doe@companyname.com” or “john_doe@companyname.com”). Also, pay attention to the URL that the email is coming from, and be sure that it matches the one you’re expecting from your sender.


Never Just Click on a Link that’s Sent to You

Even if it is coming from someone you know. Instead, check with the sender to ensure that the email address has not been spoofed. It would also be in your best interest to have a suite of tools that scans your email for potential threats and provides you with regular alerts and updates on what’s going on with your inbox.

It’s always better to be safe by being direct and simply asking about the contents of an email, than to be the source of the digital infection that your company will have to fight to get rid of.


We know that you’re busy, and we understand that this might be a lot to keep in mind for every email that gets to your inbox. But we all need to stay vigilant with this increase in cybercriminal activity.

Anyone can be a target, and anyone can get hit. But if you do your part in keeping a watchful eye out for threats, and reporting suspicious activity when you see it, you and your company will be safer in the long run.

Be sure to share these tips with your team so you and your organization can stay vigilant and less susceptible to these kinds of cyber attacks.

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This Billion Dollar Industry Should Be Giving Jamaican CEOs Nightmares

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Twenty billion US dollars. That’s how much experts expect the Ransomware industry to be worth come next year, up from a US$345m value in 2015.

These staggering figures reveal both the extent of the payouts to these attackers as well as the vulnerabilities that businesses face when it comes to cyber security, and these attacks often start when a user clicks a weaponized link embedded in a seemingly innocent email. 


Ransomeware Attacks are Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Ransomware is but one of many cyber attacks that companies are facing today. Yet many CEOs in Jamaica, and indeed the region, seem to think that a cyber attack will not happen to them. 

“Why would anyone be interested in my data? ” is one of the prevailing questions that incredulously mark this mistaken stance of immunity.  

So to the CEO’s question, I say the attackers are not interested in your data. Their interest is in your willingness to pay them to release your data after they encrypt it – finally putting an end to your business disruption.


The True Cost of Ransomeware

The truth is, the impact of ransomware on businesses extends the nightmare well beyond paying the ransom. It affects employee productivity, your brand/reputation and exposes your company to possible information leaks, litigation and compliance breaches. CEOs who want to avoid being victims of ransomware need to rethink their cyber security solution now.

It is very compelling to note that data exfiltration, or encryption (ransomware), is usually the final stage of a system breach that likely happened long before, and remained undetected by your company’s security infrastructure. 


 

Signature Based Solutions Aren't Enough

The highly regarded IT research firm Gartner agrees that “signature-based anti-malware detection is increasingly ineffective against an explosion in the number of malware variants as well as an increase in the number of financially motivated attacks.”

Antivirus, being signature-based, is ineffective against new attacks. The software simply can’t find a match. It’s like trying to match a fingerprint or DNA sample to a criminal who has never before had his/her data recorded. To make matters worse, simply re-encoding a binary file is often sufficient to bypass a signature that was previously known. To be clear, Antivirus is ineffective against new attacks.

Other areas of vulnerability occurs because for many businesses today, production activities are taking place outside of the corporate  premises and the traditional security infrastructure. 

The traditional security stack we have grown up with (Castle and Moat)  is no longer effective.   This is because the users you are trying to protect no longer permanently reside withing the confines of the corporate perimeter.  How the business secures its data and protects its users has to change.    

Still, many of the sceptical CEOs will argue that they have a firewall and anti-virus, and they are up-to-date. Truth is, every firewall exposed to the Internet is an attack surface and has been the entry point for some of the largest ransomware attacks.

In fact, every successful breach that has been reported had two things in common: the company had a firewall and antivirus, yet they still got breached.


Cloud-Scale Security is the Way Forward

What is needed is a cloud-scale solution that protects users no matter where they go and how they connect to the network in this new, work anywhere, anytime world. Such a solution, for example, should help organisations, of any size, launch and support a remote workforce securely in a time frame measured in minutes or hours, not days or weeks.

All this makes a strong case that this brave new world needs equally brave new solutions to protect company data from those with ill intentions.


Here, I make the point, again. To protect against ransomware and any other type of infiltration, a single solution isn’t enough. Businesses need to look to a next-gen cloud based multilayered security, one that goes with the user wherever they may be, armed with a slew of security tools working together to block malicious traffic.

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Unlock the Value of your Data with Simplified Database Management

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Monetize your Data with Intelligent Database Operations

Traditional Infrastructure Creates Complexity and Database Management Challenges

If your organization is like most enterprises, your high-performance databases are supported by traditional infrastructure. This means that discrete compute, storage, and network resources within your datacentre are

 carrying different parts of the overall workload to support database operations. You might think that this is beneficial load-balancing, but think again.

The reality is that siloed datacentre operations create major challenges for your IT team when managing databases. Businesses spend 72% of IT budget on just basic maintenance due to operational complexity. Managing segregated workloads results in burdensome manual processes that can expose your database to costly human error. In fact, 91% of data centres will experience unplanned outages.

In addition to high maintenance costs and increased security risk, siloed operations on traditional infrastructure result in slow provisioning, inflexibility, poor quality insights, and expensive workarounds for disaster recovery. To make matters worse, your growing business is actually demanding faster performance and more agility while reducing costs. Managing databases on traditional infrastructure simply can’t support all these operational demands at scale. You’ll need a new approach.

Rethinking Your Data Centre Infrastructure

Keeping your business running without disruption while enabling data monetization will require a simplified approach to your infrastructure — one that can reduce burdensome manual work and help increase business agility and operational efficiency. You’ll need a solution that can provide an easy-to-use, centralized management platform that allows you to easily manage your database workloads and efficiently provide database services (DBaaS) to your organization.

Nutanix Makes Database Management Easy

Whether your primary goal is to modernize your database operations, consolidate your databases to prevent sprawl, offer cloud-based DBaaS, accelerate internal development cycles, or improve critical application performance, Nutanix solution for databases makes deployment and management as easy as a single click. Consolidate your segregated workloads into a single, simplified management platform that lets you provision, clone, patch, refresh, and backup your database in just a few minutes with one click. Built-in intelligence including automated copy data management, patching, and upgrading reduces burdensome manual work and gives your DBAs more time to focus on supporting new business initiatives.

Maximize Business Continuity and Security

Keeping the business running without disruption is critical for success. Nutanix solution for databases helps you reduce unplanned downtime by up to 97% and achieve non-disruptive IT operations. One-click disaster recovery and automated copy data management, patching, and upgrades ensure maximum data resiliency with web-scale architecture that self-heals and recovers proactively. Automated and integrated data-at-rest encryption and database masking helps ensure security while simplified, intelligent database operations eliminate manual processes and reduce human error risk.

Accelerate Time to Value and Increase Business Agility

Acceleration is key to achieving ROI — doing things faster, with greater efficiency, and adapting to changing needs with less time required to pivot. Nutanix solution for databases gives you the agility to deploy infrastructure and databases in just minutes to hours and accelerate development and test deployment by up to 10X. This is where the real value in acceleration lies — beating your 

competition to critical insights and getting a jump on innovation. Increased speed and efficiency allow your users to have the right information at the right time for data-driven decision-making.

Consolidate complex database operations into a simplified database platform that can help you increase database performance, improve operational efficiency, and boost innovation while reducing TCO by up to 60%.6 Harness the full potential of your data and open new revenue opportunities for your business with Nutanix solution for databases.

 

Key Benefits

Faster Time to Value and Business Agility

Maximize Uptime and Security

Operational Efficiency and Reduced Costs

 
Info Exchange is a certified Nutanix Partner in Jamaica, West Indies
Source:  Nutanix.com
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Modern Infrastructure For Better End-User Experiences

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Bringing Together People, Process and Technology For a Holistic End-user Ecosystem

End-User Computing (EUC) environments—including both virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions—are rapidly replacing physical desktops and laptops in many workplaces. These solutions enable your organization to deliver new applications using a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, more easily support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and choose-your-own-device (CYOD) initiatives, and increase security from end to end.

End-User Computing Challenges

Many companies with existing EUC deployments are refreshing their technology stacks to deliver a better end-user experience and expand EUC benefits to more users. Whether you’re refreshing an existing environment or just getting started with EUC, you face some significant hurdles:

In addition to these roadblocks, you also face the tyranny of choice. Where will your solution be deployed—on-premises, hosted/managed, or cloud? Which solution(s) should you choose? Given these challenges, it’s not surprising that many EUC projects fail.

 

Choose Solutions From the EUC Leader

As a leading provider of EUC, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), and cloud solutions, Nutanix is uniquely positioned to help you navigate the changing EUC landscape. Nutanix EUC solutions are used by millions of end-users at thousands of customers worldwide. Nutanix offers both VDI and DaaS solutions to address unique requirements — both on-premises and in the cloud.

Nutanix HCI Platform for VDI

Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a far better choice for demanding VDI deployments with one-click management, superior scalability, industry-leading return on investment (ROI) and support for: • Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops • VMware Horizon View Nutanix HCI Platform for VDI makes it easier to deploy and manage virtual infrastructure, allowing you to: • Deliver a great experience for all users • Start small and scale to thousands of users without re-architecting • Pay as you grow and slash

TCO Nutanix Solutions for DaaS

Nutanix offers cloud-based Desktop-as-a-Service, connecting end-users to applications, desktops, and data in hybrid cloud environments. Nutanix DaaS solutions complement or take the place of VDI environments, eliminate the need for infrastructure deployment and management, accelerate delivery of desktops and apps to users, and reduce CAPEX. Options include: • Nutanix Xi Frame deployed in public clouds or on Nutanix HCI • Citrix Cloud deployed on Nutanix HCI

Simplified File Services for End-Users EUC

environments typically require separate file servers to support user files and group shares, creating additional silos of infrastructure and additional management overhead and complexity. Nutanix Files runs on the same platform as our EUC solutions, eliminating cost and complexity. Just like Nutanix EUC solutions, Nutanix Files is simple and fast to deploy, scales flexibly, and provides automated management and control.

Partner for Success

Nutanix is committed to your organization’s success. In addition to delivering industry-leading EUC solutions, Nutanix offers a wide range of related services, including design and deployment services for VMware Horizon and Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops as well as custom services tailored to your needs.

Nutanix experts have the skill and expertise to help you make the right decisions for your organization, so you can deploy and operate an EUC solution with confidence. Contact Info Exchange,  Nutanix's authorized Partner in Jamaica, to choose the path forward that’s right for you.

KEY BENEFITS

 
nfo Exchange is a certified Nutanix Partner in Jamaica
Source:  Nutanix.com
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Innovation Can’t Wait - Take the Faster Route to Cloud

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Build Your Own Enterprise Cloud

Can Legacy Infrastructure Get You To The Cloud?

As you look to modernize your IT systems, datacenter infrastructure and how it delivers resources to the business are central to the strategy. Legacy three-tier infrastructures are difficult to scale, hamper agility and flexibility, and mandate time and resource-intensive expansion. It is no longer acceptable for IT teams to take weeks or months to make technology changes or enable infrastructures for advanced business needs. To solve these IT challenges, enterprises have increasingly adopted public cloud solutions. Despite advantages of the public cloud, however, concerns still linger around cost, data locality, regulatory limitations, security, and data recovery. The fundamental dilemma you are facing is to decide whether to continue investing in enterprise datacenters or direct all future investment toward public clouds.

Modernization With Web-scale Aarchitecture

The path forward is clearer than you think. Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) technology has emerged as the top modernization infrastructure choice with its web-scale architecture. Web-scale pertains to the level of speed and scalability of deployment and management of your infrastructure, making it easy for IT teams to provision necessary resources for internal stakeholders. Designed for private, and hybrid, cloud HCI allows IT organizations to standardize upon softwaredefined storage infrastructure that is simpler to deploy, manage, and scale out as business needs grow without sacrificing reliability and security. It empowers IT to industrialize the delivery of applications, data, and services to the business at the right time with improved performance and lower costs.

Building Your Cloud Inside With Nutanix

While public clouds may be quick to spin up services, however, data compliance, performance demands, data locality requirements dictate that data and application and IT services are served up by the company internally. Taking the cloud inside means organizations are serving up cloud-based services from dedicated IT infrastructure, from your private infrastructure. The Nutanix Private Cloud solution is powered by the industry’s leading HCI software used by market-leading public clouds. It supports all your business critical workloads to enable end-user computing, ROBO environments, database management, dev/ test, big data analytics, and more. Delivering application and data at any scale with one-click simplicity for provisioning, update and disaster recovery.

Unparalleled Choice & Portability

Nutanix uniquely provides you the freedom to choose the right virtualization and virtualization software for your private cloud without fear of vendor lock-in. Nutanix includes a built-in hypervisor option, AHV, in addition to fully supporting other common virtualization solutions, including VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V. Along with the support of over 180 server platforms, you can choose hardware from your preferred vendor and utilize Nutanix’s infrastructure software. This reduces complexity and enables IT to deliver highly scalable, available, and efficient cloud services, all while helping IT to have better control of costs.

Customer Success Comes First

Nutanix’s software, delivery, and support services are all designed with customer success as the end goal. Being customer-obsessed is our principle, and we partner with customers to help them accelerate their digital transformation into cloud. It’s no wonder we have thousands of happy customers with 97% customer satisfaction rating and +90 NPS for over 5 years now. We are a company that is customer obsessed.

Nutanix blocks

Designed for Cloud

Nutanix offers infrastructure software that is engineered to deliver highly scalable, available, and efficient cloud services. We are purposefully built to power the modern datacenter. We combine the availability and agility of the public cloud with the flexibility and security of private cloud — all in one.

 

The Nutanix infrastructure software platform is designed to be:

• Easy: One-click deployment, update, and DR makes lifecycle management truly easy

• Intelligent: Built-in AI and adaptive machine learning automatically adjust resources to optimize performance and utilization. A future-ready infrastructure brings greater efficiency to further simplify IT

• Resilient: Eliminate data loss or downtime. Keep your business running and data safe, with built-in security, data protection, backup and disaster recovery

Highlights

• Rapid time to market

• Deploy apps in minutes One-click simplicity

• Eliminate complex infrastructure management Pay as you go

• Only pay for what you consume Continuous innovation

• Regular improvements faster Scale on demand

• Flex consumption as needed Always on services

• Back up and DR or scale workloads without any downtime

 

Source:  Article taken from Nutanix.com
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Knowing Your RTO & RPO Could Save Your Company $Millions

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You don’t have to know everything about how your IT plan for disaster recovery works. But there are two critical metrics related to that plan that should be clearly defined before you sign-off on the budget for the next fiscal year – that is, your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). 

Don’t worry I am not trying to complicate things for you with two more acronyms to remember. In fact, you might even realise that you were thinking RTO and RPO long ago; you just called them something else.  However, understanding the difference between the two will help you optimise your disaster recovery plan. 

First off, real recovery is the when the business is back up and running again, whether on premise or in the Cloud; when all the teams are able to access their data and their applications and operate as before, then the business is said to have recovered from the disruption or disaster. 

In this context, the data loss that a business is able to tolerate when a disaster or disruption occurs is the Recovery Point Objective (RPO).  According to TechAdvisory.org “RPO is determined by looking at the time between data backups and the amount of data that could be lost in between backups”.   

Alternately, the amount of time it will take for the business’ IT systems to be operational again – apps, data and all – after an outage is the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).  This is typically defined in hours, days or weeks. But the best practice time frame is around 15 minutes.  Once you identify your RTO and RPO you should then move quickly to quantify the costs associated with a downtime brought on by a disaster or unplanned disruption.   And in identifying these associated costs, you will begin to see a clear picture of the impact and financial risk of a system outage, and the steps that must be taken to minimise that risk.  

"...CEOs and COOs should play an active role in identifying their company's RPOs and RTOs"

Contrary to what typically happens in many organisations, CEOs and COOs should play an active role in identifying their companies RPOs and RTOs.  In fact, identifying RPOs and RTOs  will minimise the risks associated with downtime, and therefore should be treated as an important performance metric.   Let’s look a scenario that illustrates how RPOs and RTO impacts on your business. 

Let’s say your IT teams backup at the end of the day around 7 o’ clock. What if at 4 pm the next day a major event occurs and your system goes down?  In this scenario your closest point of recovery (your RPO) is the night before. Just like that, you have lost data for 8 hours of the workday, not to mention any processes that might have started after the backup from the previous evening.   Armed with this metric, you can determine if your business can withstand that much data loss.   

"The greater the number of business transactions the higher the risk to the organisation"

When it comes down to it, the right RPO is really about a company’s transaction rate and what management feels is an appropriate data loss that they can recover from; the size of the business doesn’t matter.  The greater the number of business transactions the higher the risk to the organisation. If such a business is processing transactions every minute of the day and customer records are being updated continuously throughout the day - your RPO can’t be more than minutes. 

"Aim to have an RPO of 15 minutes or less"

Companies ideally should aim to have an RPO of 15 minutes or less. If you are unable to achieve your RPO you could lose customers and damage your reputation.

So while IT Team leads offer very valuable insight to the business, a company’s RTO an RPO is really a business issue; one that needs to be defined and articulated at the C-Level, and then a technical solution deployed to accommodate it.  At a minimum, one should quantify the cost to the business when your system is down.  One rule of thumb is that when a business is down for 24 hours, the financial impact could be as high as $11Million, depending on the size of the business.

Such technical solutions then, should really pivot around the broader conversation of IT resilience.  With today’s business being increasingly dependent on stored data, forward looking CEOs should drive their IT Teams away from the ad hoc scenario of back up and recovery toward a deliberate and methodical approach for achieving IT Resilience.  Such a scenario gives businesses the ability to maintain acceptable service levels through severe disruptions to a business’s critical processes and the IT systems that support them.

In the meantime, while CEOs may not have to know every IT detail of your business continuity plan, it’s pretty important to have a handle on your RTO and RPO. 

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International Agri-business Boosts Employee Productivity, Efficiency, and Business Agility

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Jamaica Broilers boosts network performance 20X and improves uptime to over 99 percent with Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform

In many parts of the world, having a roast chicken on the dinner table is a weekly event. Freshly dressed poultry is plentiful in nearly any grocery. But in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean during the 1950s, the idea of walking into a store and picking up a chicken, already plucked, cleaned and ready for seasoning, was revolutionary.

All that changed when Sydney Levy established Jamaica Broilers—today, Jamaica Broilers Group, Ltd. Instead of wrestling with impossible logistics to import processed, ready-to-cook chickens, Jamaica Broilers acquired live chicks, raised them to maturity, and processed them locally. Over the last 60 years, this simple, yet highly effective approach spurred massive growth in the enterprise, which today comprises facilities across Jamaica, Haiti, and the U.S.

Naturally, communication among the company’s distributed operations is critical. However, while the business grew and matured, its wide area network infrastructure lagged behind. The performance and reliability of the network was not keeping pace with business demand, which impacted efficiency. It was clear that without improvement, the network would impede the growth of the business.

Jamaica Broilers boosts network performance 20X and improves uptime to over 99 percent with Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform

When Sheldon Mundle joined Jamaica Broilers Group as Group CIO, his first priority was to bring the network infrastructure up to speed with the business. “My role was to look at how best to provide a technology platform to help the business scale and grow. The goal was to prepare for digitalization of the business, and that’s only possible with reliable and available network connectivity.”

The EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform gives us much more flexibility. It allows us to do more in the cloud and adopt a hybrid model instead of backhauling everything to the data center. We can look at each business unit and provide the right mix of applications and services for their unique needs. It’s opened up a whole world of new possibilities.
— Sheldon Mundle, Group CIO, Jamaica Broilers Group Ltd.

Bringing new life to an aging network

The company’s edge infrastructure was quite dated, with a majority of the routers and switches out of warranty across the region. Equipment went down on a regular basis, and even when it was up, the single MPLS link connecting regional facilities to the Kingston data center delivered a mere 5 Mbps of bandwidth.

Faced with the high cost and long time required to replace the company’s aging routers and switches, Mundle consulted with local partner, Info Exchange Limited, a trusted team of IT experts with broad experience in network technologies and cloud. Leveraging their industry insights, Info Exchange presented Mundle with other options to address his WAN challenges, including software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).

Jamaica Broilers Case Study

Mundle explains, “SD-WAN was on our radar, but Info Exchange was instrumental in helping us evaluate vendors and choose a solution that best met our current and future needs.”

After assessing the capabilities of several leading SD-WAN vendors, Mundle chose the Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnectTM SD-WAN edge platform. Key to this decision? “The flexibility of the EdgeConnect platform to work with any combination of transport connectivity was big so we could adopt dedicated internet links as we retired our MPLS network. We also liked that it provides a complete SD-WAN solution with features like path conditioning and quality of service, as well as WAN optimization, all unified in a single platform. In addition, the fact that EdgeConnect includes built-in security meant that we didn’t have to scramble to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on firewalls for each of our locations. These things made the EdgeConnect platform very compelling.”

He adds, “Another important factor was the maturity of Silver Peak as a company. They have thousands of customers, which gave us confidence. When we looked at the flexibility of the platform, the maturity of Silver Peak, and a local partner willing to roll up their sleeves and jump in, it was not a hard decision.”

Greater performance and reliability to drive the business

Mundle and his team deployed the EdgeConnect platform at 13 company sites, enabling the full range of SD-WAN features such as dynamic path control, path conditioning, and quality of service. The MPLS circuits have been replaced with redundant Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) links at each site, bonded to maximize bandwidth utilization and provide instantaneous failover in the event of a circuit fault or outage. Most sites now have bandwidth of at least 100 Mbps—20 times greater than the previous MPLS network. The Jamaica sites also use microwave connectivity between the central data center and local facilities. In addition, the unified EdgeConnect platform includes the optional Unity BoostTM WAN optimization performance pack to accelerate critical applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and to speed branch access to Microsoft Office 365.

With a business-driven, highly reliable EdgeConnect SD-WAN, Mundle gained the confidence to deploy a new VoIP system to enable better communication and collaboration among teams. Even in areas where telecom services are less consistent, leveraging EdgeConnect to provide quality of service over broadband assures consistent voice service.

“We would never have attempted to put in VoIP on our MPLS network,” Mundle says. “The EdgeConnect platform was instrumental in unlocking the value in our WAN investment.”

Jamaica Broilers Case Study

In addition, access to critical applications such as ERP and product distribution systems is now assured for the company’s facilities regardless of location. In fact, ERP application availability increased from 90 percent to over 99 percent, while latency improved from an average of 50 milliseconds to 28 milliseconds in the U.S., and from an average of 20 milliseconds to 4 milliseconds in Jamaica.

The EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform also helped Jamaica Broilers improve data backup and recovery operations between its Kingston data center and a collocated failover site in the U.S. Previously, moving 600 GB of data from one site to the other took many days over the slow MPLS network. Now, Mundle says they can confidently failover 600 GB of data to the original data center in as little as 17 hours.

Recovering data is also much faster over the SD-WAN. “Prior to having our SD-WAN, at best we could recover data to within 48 hours of the last transaction. Now, we can meet our recovery point objective, or RPO, in less than 15 minutes. Our recovery time objective, or RTO, also is less than 15 minutes, compared to 28 days when we only had MPLS.”

What have these improvements meant to the business? Mundle reflects, “Employees are more productive, and increased uptime allows our plants to produce more and get products out through our distribution systems more efficiently. For IT, the number of engineers needed to run our infrastructure is half what it would be if we had followed a conventional route. Instead of hiring a small army, we manage our entire wide area network centrally using Unity OrchestratorTM with our small team in Kingston.”

Mundle further points out that the EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform enables Jamaica Broilers Group to now focus on the future. “EdgeConnect gives us much more flexibility. It allows us to do more in the cloud and adopt a hybrid model instead of backhauling everything to the data center. We can look at each business unit and provide the right mix of applications and services for their unique needs. It’s opened up a whole world of new possibilities.”

For more information on Silver Peak and our solutions, please visit: silver-peak.com

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Jamaica Broilers Group - Background 

Incorporated in 1958, Jamaica Broilers Group Limited is a leading agri-business in the poultry market. For six decades Jamaica Broilers has been providing home-grown products at international standards through a commitment to innovation, embracing technology, and ongoing research. Today, the company’s operations span three countries, involving everything from feed mills, hatching eggs, and raising chickens to processing and distributing ready-to-eat offerings in retail stores.

Challenge

Overcome the bandwidth limitations and expense of MPLS to deliver high-quality voice over IP and increase the speed of transferring large project files while reducing WAN costs

Solution

Deploy the EdgeConnect SD-WAN platform to provide a unified WAN edge infrastructure, enabling Jamaica Broilers to systematically replace lowspeed MPLS with redundant, bonded Dedicated Internet Access links and retire outdated routers and firewalls with integrated application-driven traffic control, security, quality of service, path conditioning, and optional Boost WAN optimization performance pack to accelerate business-critical applications

Results

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