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How the cloud can help make compliance more productive

It’s estimated that approximately 83% of enterprises will be in the cloud by the year 2020. There’s no question that cloud computing, as well as all that’s offered by the technology, is here to stay.

83% of enterprises will be in the cloud by the year 2020

– Forbes.com

However, moving to a cloud environment brings changes that can affect how you deal with compliance.

Before diving into how the cloud has changed to meet compliance requirements, it’s a good idea to better understand the challenges that brought about the need for these changes to begin with.

Challenge: Delineating responsibility in the “shared responsibility model”

Even though there have been significant efforts made by cloud providers to create more awareness of the “shared responsibility model,” providing the needed training and security controls, there are many organizations that still struggle to fully understand, making the same mistakes in delineating the responsibilities.

As a result, organizations wind up with security gaps in cloud assets, all because they assume it is the provider’s responsibility to manage and prevent potential breaches.

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Challenge: Responsibility shift and changing realization of compliance mapping

Compliance objectives and requirements remain constant across all the layers of cloud computing. However, the accountability to create specific requirements on an Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) versus a Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform might be totally different. One may require the customer to implement the same, where the other requires the cloud provider to do so.

For example, there are different implementation sets and responsibility models to meet the compliance objectives of an IaaS service compared to a SaaS platform.

Challenge: Compliance and security checks aren’t done until the end of the software production lifecycle

In most situations, compliance and security policies are written on extremely large and complex paper documents. After software production, the security personnel or officers will validate the software in order to make sure it has met the policies, which may often fall a bit short due to delivery time constraints, the pressure to go to market, and not fully understanding the software. The Development and Security team’s relationship is affected, which can then result in the creation of insecure and non-resilient software.

Now that some of the most prevalent challenges are known, it’s important to find out how the cloud has changed to better meet these compliance concerns.

The creation of knowledge and awareness

Modern cloud providers have invested quite a bit of time and money into knowledge and awareness to help users better understand their responsibilities versus cloud providers responsibilities. When a company decides to adopt the cloud for their business, they also need to create a strategy that includes training the teams about the ongoing responsibility shift taking place with the use of the cloud.

A great starting point to learn more about this is the AWS Shared responsibility guide.

Eastech Divider

Learn more about the AWS Shared responsibility guide.

Eastech Divider

Defining and delineating responsibilities for SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS service models as early as possible is essential for success. When an organization moves to the cloud, it doesn’t mean they no longer have to use methods to secure the data or workloads being moved. Now, cloud providers are spreading this awareness in hopes users will take the proper security measures to safeguard information.

The shifting of compliance and security checks

Thanks to the rise in the adoption of DevOps, there has been a significant impact on how organizations produce software. Due to the change in methodology, compliance and security controls need to be shifted and not implemented closer to the actual production. The conversion of the paper-based security needs and the compliance policies should be used earlier in the process. Beginning early and converting security as code is the solution to help achieve compliance at the cloud scale.

Automation is now required to remain compliant and manage drift

Managing drift within the cloud can be challenging because of the high velocity and ephemeral nature. Using automation, along with the real-time enforcement of various compliance policies is the best way to remain compliant.

With automation, an organization has the ability to enforce various security controls and security policies homogenously in this continually changing cloud ecosystem. The cloud may be further augmented with the real-time enforcement of the set compliance policies. This is something that is absolutely essential if a company wants to remain compliant. The use of in-house automation, along with products, such as Puppet, Chef, etc. can be used together to help manage drift and automate to meet the set compliance objectives.

EaseTech team member

To remain compliant in the cloud, it’s important to stay abreast of these changes as they continue to evolve. If you want to ensure your company or organization remains compliant, then keeping the tips and information here in mind is a must. If you’d like to learn more, additional information about cloud compliance can be found by reaching out to the team at EaseTech.

What is file sync and how could your business use it?

File sync is a way for your business to easily access files and to see any changes immediately. It is one advantage of cloud computing and enables your personnel, no matter where they are, to work from the most recent versions of images, text, video, graphics and even music.

With this technology, you can recruit a remote workforce in different time zones, boost productivity, offer employees more flexibility and convenience, and turn around work quicker and with fewer errors.

Here’s a look at why all of the above items are achievable with file sync.

Time savings

With file sync, you no longer have to stress over whether you’re working from the most recent version of a file. Nor do you have to call five colleagues working on a project to ask if they made any changes.

Whatever you’re working on will be the most recent version of the file.

In addition, you should be able to see who made what changes and when, and access older versions of the file without affecting its current state.

More efficient collaboration

Many programs allow you to work on a file in real time with other colleagues and even see who is doing what. This comes in especially helpful when each of you is responsible for your own portion of a project saved on one file.

Work on multiple devices

There’s no need to be tied to a computer any longer.

For example, you’ve probably started a paper or presentation on your desktop, and at some point, worked on it using your laptop, tablet or cellphone—maybe all three. Without file sync, this process can be tedious. It involves a lot of emailing, downloading and transferring. And there’s always a chance you’ll mistakenly work from an outdated version.

With file sync, all you have to do is open the file no matter which device you are on and start working. The only requirement is to have internet access.

Financial savings

File sync saves your business money in several ways, including the following:

  • Less office space needed (because you may have more employees working out of the office or remotely)
  • Fewer overhead costs and fewer costs of doing business (due to less office space needed)
  • Less local file storage space is required (because file sync is done via cloud computing)

There are also indirect savings through improved employee efficiency. 62 percent of your employees may be more productive working outside of the office, according to Softchoice.

Fewer errors and quicker turnaround

Employees access the same version of a file no matter how many devices have been included and how many revisions have been made. You’re able to see who made changes and when. In the big picture, this leads to fewer errors and happier clients.

The data in the file is simply more trustworthy. For example, file tampering or employee manipulation of information is much harder to do with file sync because there’s history of the changes.

Along the same lines, employees can turn work around more quickly when they’re able to work across multiple devices and from multiple locations. This can be especially nice, even necessary, in industries where clients expect immediate responses.

The importance of secure file sharing

There is, however, one critical thing to keep in mind—file sync should be secure.

Some ways to ensure proper security include smart password management, encryption and two-factor authentication. Your workplace also needs a good BYOD policy and guidelines on using public Wi-Fi networks.

Additionally, only grant employees access to the files they need to do their work. It’s not necessary (and could be risky) for someone in project development to have access to the same files the accountants have access to and vice versa.

5 Reasons a Cloud Migration Means Less Work for You

Stop. Don’t buy that new server. Sure the old server is dusty, slow, behind-the-times. Sure it’s incompatible with some of your new systems. Maybe it shut down altogether, and you’re reading this at Starbucks across the street from your office. But we implore you: Rather than diving headfirst into another expensive piece of hardware that will inevitably fail you, consider cloud migration.

The reality is, you’re already utilizing the cloud. Actually, 90% of organizations use the cloud in some way. It may come in bits and pieces. Maybe you use Office 365 or ADP for payroll. But a true migration to the cloud could mean less work for you in the long run.

Here are our top 5 reasons cloud migration means less work for you.

No ongoing hardware maintenance.

The problem with servers, of course, is that they are machines. No matter how amazing they are out of the box, time and use wear them down. Just look at some of those Terminator movies if you don’t believe us. When the average lifespan of a server is three to five years, you may be looking down the barrel of pretty hefty investments every few years. That’s not to mention the cost of powering, managing and cooling your server room.

In the long run, a move to the cloud puts all the hardware maintenance on the data center, and you never have to worry about it.

No ongoing software maintenance.

The problem with software is maintenance (in terms of patches and updates) and licensing. If your server is on premise, then you essentially must roll out all the updates. Most businesses with on-premise servers have a tendency to do this at night when the fewest people are working. But this may require some overnight staffing to help maintain the integrity of the network.

With cloud-based software, your updates are automatic and behind-the-scenes, so you never experience the downtime, and you never have to worry about multiple versions of software throughout your organization, which can slow down productivity.

EaseTech Cloud: Your Perfect Cloud Computing Solution

No scaling guesswork.

Is your business growing? Are you adding staff left, right and center? Considering a three-to-five-year lifespan on servers, you have to guess what kind of storage you might need going several years out. Think, are your storage needs today going to meet your needs a few years from now? Is it worth paying for that “down the road” storage now, so you don’t have to invest in new equipment earlier than planned?

In the cloud, scalability is infinite. As your needs ebb and flow, so can your storage.

No complex BDR.

What do you do when your server room has a foot of water in it? How does your backup system work? BDR planning is a complex endeavor, made even more complex when adding critical hardware to the list. But a true cloud migration can give you the power to work anywhere, anytime. This means after a disaster, you can log into your system from any desktop, laptop or mobile device, accessing your hard-earned data without any trouble.

No lag in technology.

Finally, as you invest in new technologies to help you compete and stay relevant, you never want your older tech standing in the way. With a cloud migration, you retain the ability to integrate new tech, because your network’s foundation is in the cloud. No more rigging systems, no more square pegs in a round hole. This is simply best technology practices.

Talk to us today about migrating to the cloud.

Related: Transform Your Work Environment with the Cloud

Business Having Growing Pains? Let Cloud Solutions Be Your Tonic

Business growth is a good thing, though not without its challenges. Just as successful ideas start off small and grow over time, so do businesses. Today’s SMB might become tomorrow’s industry titan. Proper growth requires new and expanding solutions if a company expects their IT to keep up.

As companies grow, so do their teams and their IT needs. An increased staff means more technology resources. Not to mention additional networking needs and greater bandwidth to support increased data traffic.

For many SMBs there will come a point where replacing, upgrading and housing expensive on-site equipment to support continued growth will cease to make sense.

That’s where cloud solutions can transform and supercharge a company’s growth trajectory. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and virtual desktops are just the start of what cloud computing can deliver a growing company.

It can also expand their staffing options (more in a minute about that).

Here are a few quick ways that cloud solutions can help your company grow with minimal pain.

Scalability That Keeps Up With Expansion

Perhaps the biggest benefit cloud solutions can offer your growing company is the ability to scale your infrastructure up or down with a few clicks of your mouse. One of the biggest side effects growth brings is bandwidth limitations and network overload.

When you switch over to cloud computing, your network instantly becomes scalable thanks to pay-as-you-grow solutions.

Rather than you having to make costly investments in hardware (think new servers and computers), cloud computing can provide unlimited vertical and horizontal scalability to meet your needs. This keeps your company from ever running into a situation where a lack of available resources hinders performance.

Or worse, causes downtime and lost productivity.

The specific solution for your company depends on your business’s unique combination of systems and software. But exchanging the upfront costs of adding more infrastructure for a flat monthly service fee means your company can focus on serving your customers while improving IT budget management.

Remote Access Through Mobility

Cloud solutions can also provide excellent mobility for your team, increasing productivity and expanding your work outside the confines of the physical office. The secure remote access that cloud technologies provide means your team can access sensitive data and systems from anywhere, anytime.

This means less downtime, more productivity, and more chances for growth.

By the way, that mobility carries over to personal devices, specifically smartphones. Cloud mobility allows your team to access data and systems in real time from devices on hand, increasing workplace connectivity.

Expanded Staffing Options

Though perhaps not the right fit for every company, there are plenty of SMBs that exist in smaller regions and markets which might not have as wide of a talent pool for new hires as they would like.

The remote access and mobility provided by the cloud equips your company to take on remote employees, or expand out into new markets and offices without suffering from connectivity or communication issues.

In the cloud, all files and systems update in real time, so all employees or potential hires get access to the latest versions of documents or other projects from almost anywhere in the world. Imagine what that kind of hiring pool could do to drive your growth!

Cloud Solutions Are the Future, Right Now

The cloud’s advantages go way beyond what they can do for your staff expansion needs. And it would be insincere of us to tell you that cloud computing is the future because, in truth, cloud computing has already nearly become the standard for SMBs and industry titans alike.

If your company is on an upward trajectory and you haven’t already considered a switch to cloud solutions, there’s no time like the present to get on board. Imagine all the future growing pains you’ll avoid!