The Evolution of Cloud Computing

It’s hard to imagine life before the internet. A world filled with papercuts and ink stains where we all looked up to the clouds, hoping for something better. Coincidentally, we were looking in the right direction.

Cloud computing caught on after the turn of the 21st Century – after the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s. Understanding how cloud computing has evolved over the years offers a unique perspective on the speed by which technology travels.

Early Days of Cloud Computing

The cloud, and its related services, wasn’t some technology that CIOs and business leaders inherently knew what to do with when it first became truly useful. Because there wasn’t much information available about cloud computing and the benefits associated with it, maximizing cloud ROI was difficult.

Not only were computers, servers and other required IT infrastructure especially cost prohibitive for businesses, but there was no clear-cut and widely accepted definition of what cloud computing actually was, what it meant, or even what benefit it held for companies.

Once the dot-com bubble burst, the remaining technology companies that survived realized they had to figure out a better way of doing things.

Amazon was the first to invest heavily in cloud computing, and they officially entered the cloud market in 2006. As a matter of fact, other than MySpace, it was Amazon that actually pioneered cloud computing and proved it a worthwhile investment for other companies. By 2008, Google became more than just a search engine as they too expanded into the cloud space.

However, the public cloud still wasn’t born and wasn’t perceived in such a positive way as it is today. IT attention shifted focus to “private clouds,” and companies such as Microsoft, Rackspace and others who had the technological capabilities and understanding to implement cloud computing solutions for the marketplace were happy to play on the fears of data security to cause a dramatic market shift into private clouds for several years.

Cloud Computing Today

Cloud computing as we know it today, with a great deal of trust placed in the public cloud, as well as hybrid cloud solutions, began in 2010. Rackspace and NASA actually teamed up to launch the open source platform OpenStack. This joint venture paved the way for companies and individuals to test applications in a private lab of sorts before rolling out those applications for the public on the public cloud. Without this partnership, it’s impossible to predict exactly when we would have been comfortable accepting the public cloud and all the benefits it has to offer.

It wasn’t long before the hybrid cloud was born, which combines public and private cloud environments for the best of both worlds – maximum access to productivity tools and applications, but maximum security as well. This occurred in 2011 and the market hasn’t looked back since. We now see that over 70% of enterprise companies have adopted some form of cloud applications within their business model, more and more organizations adopting mobile workforce strategies, and business owners and individuals alike having a much better understanding of the benefits cloud computing provides.

The Future of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is here to stay. It’s become so widely adopted and integrated so deeply into the daily lives of people, and the day-to-day operations of practically every business on the planet that it truly isn’t going anywhere. However, the major issues facing cloud computing today have much to do with security.

New online security threats are being developed, deployed and discovered every single day. These threats are a great risk to cloud computing providers, services and those relying on them because a devastating cyber attack has the potential to bring a company down for weeks, if not months. The costs associated with recovering from such events are so staggering that many SMBs end up shutting their doors within six months of data loss or critical downtime events.

That’s why reputable IT companies such as EaseTech, and many other major corporations in the industry, are doing all they can to develop new security tools and applications to proactively monitor and prevent such attacks from ever being an issue.

Learn more about cloud computing with EaseTech.

Transform Your Work Environment with the Cloud

We all know that cloud computing is changing the way the world works. The sheer amount of data that is collected every day is astounding. It’s 2.5 quintillion bytes. The fact that data accumulation in data centers is going to drive much of business in the future, means that you can no longer afford to disregard cloud technology. And the benefits of this new wave of cloud possibilities is felt strongest in office mobility.

According to Forbes: “Employee mobility leads to 30% better processes and 23% more productivity—and 100% more satisfied employees.” Office mobility is one of the most exciting elements to cloud computing thanks to new methods in data storage, business application delivery and improved security procedures. Here, we want to give you a rundown of the best ways that office mobility can help you transform your work environment thanks to the cloud.

Related: 3 Simple Ways to Promote Cloud Security

Accessibility

Did you know that mobility gives you more accessibility? Well, that should be a “no kidding” sort of statement. But it resonates more strongly than some people consider. Particularly in a world where more millennials are entering the workforce. Of course, it isn’t just millennials who are looking for mobility. In fact:

Accessibility means you don’t have look for the perfect employee in a 20-mile radius. It means you can get the best person for the job. A good mobility program gives your team the flexibility for work-from-anywhere days, extended vacations and more. Likewise, when you’re traveling, mobility means you have access to your staff and to clients without the need for troublesome communication procedures.

Accountability

It used to be that when remote working became an option, accountability went out the window. But the cloud offers project management tools and business apps that keep your staff productive and communicating. Now you’ve got the tools to give your staff access to all the data they need, without losing time and energy struggling over document versions and who is not getting work completed.

With the right cloud technology, your accountability is identical to in-office workstations, giving you peace of mind and a more productive staff.

Cybersecurity

For many businesses, security has always been the sticking point with the cloud. A poorly thought-out office mobility plan could leave you open to malware and other cybersecurity issues.

But in modern office mobility scenarios, particularly with programs like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, your data is held behind some of the strongest walls available. This means that no matter your company size, you get enterprise-level cybersecurity defenses automatically applied to your hard-earned data.

Related: Identity Theft in the Modern Era

Recovery

Backup and recovery should be a high priority for every business. After all, if your office experiences downtime, that lost time can become extremely detrimental. Running your business out of the cloud can help you minimize your downtime.

With a good office mobility program, your team can be up and running after a disaster. When a blizzard strikes, or a hurricane, your staff can easily pick up where they left off, even when the office is inaccessible. But it happens on the small scale as well. A laptop dropped in water can be easily replaced because of good office mobility solutions and management.

Learn more about cloud computing with EaseTech.

Finally

While many businesses are aware of their need to go mobile, enacting a plan to do so safely and with long-term goals in mind can be difficult. But with the right cloud technology and an IT provider with vision by your side, you can transform your work environment.

Call us today to discuss take your office mobility needs to the next level.

How to Fix Your IT Budget

For most businesses, there is an ever-increasing dependence on technology. Mobility, for example, is transforming the landscape of today’s workforce. But what does mobility do for your IT budget? By the end of this year, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) market is expected to reach $73 billion. The estimates are that a BYOD plan could save you hundreds of dollars per employee.

This kind of strategic thinking is essential when managing your IT budget. Because overpaying for tech is a rampant problem for organizations. Part of that is not strategically thinking about how technology fits into your business goals, and the other part is getting caught in the break-fix trap.

So, we want to help you rethink your IT budget. By changing your thinking, you open a new world where your tech actually propels you toward your business goals, instead of slowing you down.

The Problem with IT Problems

For many organizations, technology is a necessary evil. It’s a tool that helps them interact with their customer base, but it isn’t much more. The downside of this is that tech support calls can quickly grow into frequent occurrences. Workflow and organization solutions are often of the moment. Ad hoc processes start to bog down the system. Bad tech, or at least poorly planned IT, becomes a speed bump, bringing increased downtime, halted productivity and near nonexistent innovation.

This is break-fix mode. This is where you consider your IT only when it doesn’t work. And this is no way to run a business. You end up paying more to keep an inadequate system in place. You are perpetually chasing problems without simple answers and no clear, long-term solutions.

We talk to businesses every day who are paying debts on tech that they never needed in the first place, and who are unloading untold costs on IT support that never fixes the problem. But the significance of these costs are felt everywhere. In fact, according to Spiceworks, only 11% of companies are expecting to decrease their IT budgets.

There is, however, a solution.

The Flat-Rate Method

One of the best ways to get a grip on your IT budget is with managed services. This essentially is flat-rate IT. For a predictable monthly fee, you outsource your IT to a managed IT services provider who takes care of all your technology needs. But the biggest benefit is having IT off your plate and onto someone else’s.

With flat-rate IT, your entire infrastructure gets super-sized. Your complex network is simplified. If you have onsite servers, downtime is minimized and scalability with staff is supported. Security management is much more than just antivirus software. You get proactive cybersecurity guarding your data and your clients’ private information. And when you’ve got devices to manage, you get the same best practices for your desktop on any device. Concerns about mobility and productivity become a thing of the past.

The EaseTech Strategic IT Budget Process

Good strategic IT planning gives you the most bang for your buck, with efficiency and easy scalability. We sit down with your leadership team and plan the next three to five years, so you’re never surprised by your IT expenses and you never wonder if you’re heading to your business goals.

The first thing we do is plan out technology solutions that are tailored specifically to your business needs. This includes addressing any existing IT problems and proactively taking measures to prevent future incidents. We bring our tactical expertise and guidance to the table, helping you plan for innovation and creativity in your workflow, and allowing you to save time and focus on your business. All this while cutting costs and streamlining your IT budget.

IT is more than getting a new computer for a new employee. Good strategic IT planning gives you the most bang for your buck, with efficiency and easy scalability.

Call us today to let IT drive your success.

7 Ways to Improve Technology at Your School

It’s a new day for educators. Never has great technology offered better educational opportunities that are affordable and accessible. However, when it comes to implementing your school’s technology agenda, it’s easy to go off the rails.

At EaseTech, we’re big proponents of the managed education service model, because it puts the technology’s burden of proof onto the professionals, leaving your staff and teachers in a position to focus on what they do best: teaching our children.

Here are 7 ways we think managed education services can help improve technology at your school.

Security

Cybersecurity breaches are an inevitable part of data collection. This isn’t just students cracking into the network to turn F’s into A’s. Major universities are targeted, not only for their wealth of private student data, including social security and credit card numbers but also for the government-funded research often found on these campuses. Recently, infamous Russian hacker Rasputin hacked into dozens of major universities around the world to sell data on the dark web.

The key is to set up your network so that your system’s defenses are strong, and then have an actionable plan for recovery when data loss occurs. Strong firewalls and antivirus software that is well thought out and implemented campus-wide can do wonders for layering your network. Likewise, frequent testing of backups can help ensure recovery from data loss.

Tablets

Tablets are a great addition to students’ education. In fact, in 2017, iPads were up 32% in the education sector. They’re convenient, fun and give easy access to some of the internet’s best educational resources.

When planning out 1:1 tablet programs for students, device management can be a daunting task. But a good managed services provider is experienced in the deployment of tablets across hundreds of students. You need to be able to scale as necessary without having a device surplus. Strategic planning on your MSP’s part can help.

The Cloud

Cloud technology is an amazing way to store and manage homework, pass out assignments, give commentary on work and more. With platforms like Google for Education, your students can learn the fundamentals of cloud technology through practice.

With apps and programs offered as a service, you not only help flatline your IT budget, but you also get enterprise-level software, no matter what size your school is.

Wi-Fi

One of the trickiest technologies to get right is Wi-Fi. Between modems, routers and wireless access points, a Wi-Fi strategy requires a deft hand at mapping. You want students to have mobility on campus without losing productivity. By offloading your Wi-Fi mapping, you can get the best results for your students to ensure there are no dead spots and there’s easy access when they need it.

ID Management

Whether you’ve got dozens of students or thousands, the security of their private data is dependent on proper ID management protocols. Setting standards for complicated passwords and even two-factor authentication can greatly improve security. Guidance from experts on best practices can help you combat rampant identity theft that’s common today.

Check out our blog: “Identity Theft in the Modern Era”

Budgets

IT budgets are always a concern. With managed education services, you flatline your budget by offloading your IT to a third party. You plan out months, even years, in advance so there are no surprises. You then start to make your IT dollars work for you. This is how you get in a position so your education starts driving your technology, not the other way around.

IT Staffing

Hiring the right IT staff is incredibly difficult. Luckily, with managed education services you never have to worry about that. Your IT provider covers all tech support, planning, cable management, cybersecurity, strategic planning and much more. You never have to rely on one or two IT people who are stretched so thin on IT support issues that planning and goals are never achieved.

Learn More: Let Education Drive Your Technology with Managed Education Services

EaseTech Managed Education

EaseTech’s managed education service gives you more than 25 years of experience in transforming how educational institutions lead with technology.

Contact us today to discuss your school’s technology needs.

Identity Theft in the Modern Era

Kleptotechnophobia

There used to be this fear that if you didn’t turn all your bills into confetti before tossing them into the trash, then nefarious identity thieves, disguised as garbagemen, were going to harvest your social security number from amongst your unopened bank statements, banana peels and Lands’ End catalogs. Identity theft was coming to a trash bag near you.

From a theft perspective, that’s a lot of work. First off, you have to get up early. Secondly, who’s to say filtering through coffee grounds and dirty diapers would yield the golden ticket of an intact Bank of America statement?

The big shift was to credit card fraud. Back in 2012, $22 billion in identity theft damages crushed consumers around the world. Much of this came from card cloning. This theft technique involved printing stolen credit card details on blank cards and racking up a nice chunk of debt for the victim.

In 2016, CNP (card-not-present) fraud rose 40%.

After that record crime wave, credit card companies responded with EMV chips. The gold chips on your cards, combined with PINs and signatures, made card cloning extremely difficult. With these in place, identity thieves refocused on online purchases. In 2016, CNP (card-not-present) fraud rose 40%.

Despite advances in technology, identity theft has not slowed. Every year, fraud increases, and the methods of combat become more nuanced.

The question then becomes: What do you do about it? How can you live in a world where digital pickpockets can run algorithms – millions a second – attacking your data, trying to get information about who you are and how much money you have.

“A good identity management system should make it difficult to figure out who you are, for the harder it is to discover your identity, the harder it is to steal your identity.”

Identity Management

The answer lies in identity management. Identity management is a set of protocols you put in place (and that companies put in place) to help identify you and no one else. The old username and password is often not enough to keep thieves at bay.

What are these technologies? Passwords are certainly part of it. Digital certificates, network protocols fall in line as well. A good identity management system should make it difficult to figure out who you are, for the harder it is to discover your identity, the harder it is to steal your identity.

Much of identity management happens behind the scenes. Determining capabilities for identity are software based. Authentication through passwords or fingerprint scan on smartphones, authorization with multiple user accounts, roles within organizations, delegations and interchanges: These are backend issues.

From your end-user perspective, it is imperative to take the steps needed to ensure you’ve put in your due diligence. When available, two-factor authentication can give you an exponential improvement in your identity management. Complex and unique passwords are cybersecurity common sense, and go a long way in protecting your identity.

“It’s a complicated venture to ensure proper identity management, but the dividends are paid in successful theft deterrence.”

The Business Side

So, how does ID management play into your business?

While the execution might be a little different, the principles are the same. For every member of your staff, you want a complex system of identification that meets the parameters of your business. If you run an online T-shirt shop, you may not necessarily need CIA-level identification steps, but you want customers to know that their personal data is safe and that you do what you can to maintain the integrity of your system.

Depending on seat size, you may have varying levels of access, which need to be accompanied by a series of protocols to ensure the right person has the right access at the right time. It’s a complicated venture to ensure proper identity management, but the dividends are paid in successful theft deterrence.

The EaseTech Solution

How do you know if your system has the right identity management for your business? Bring in experts. At EaseTech, our years in the identity management space give us extra insight into the best ways to keep your staff safe and your data secure. Without real testing of your system, you won’t know how secure you are until it’s too late.

Contact EaseTech today to discuss your identity management.