Servers

How to Secure Healthcare Files in 2019

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In modern health care, there are many reasons for very large files to be stored and sent from person to person. A growing trend is centrally located diagnostic specialists serving multiple clinics. This means image files must be moved from place to place with increasing frequency. These files must be moved and stored securely.

Fortunately for health care IT pros, there are:

  • Regulations to provide minimum expectations of what "secure" means

  • Models from other industries on techniques and technologies for protecting very large files

The road to protection starts with the security devices in place for the network.

The filtering layer

Like in every other industry, you start with standard security devices and practices. However, in healthcare an additional layer is necessary, a layer that examines file types and allows or disallows transit based on explicit permissions attached to user credentials. This additional layer of security is a filter that stops files rather than try to stop accounts. It can protect files based on:

  • Type

  • Contents (looking for certain patterns of information, such as digits arranged the way they are in credit-card numbers)

  • Allowable origination or destination addresses

Where care must be taken, though, is in the file sizes these filters can screen out and block.

The large file problem

Some security devices, especially those that guard the perimeter by looking at the contents of entire files, are limited in just how large a file they can inspect and protect. When looking at new systems, make sure to ask very pointed questions to ensure the filtering capabilities of the system you choose will adequately filter out the files you want blocked.

The VDI solution

There is another approach that some organizations have adopted, one that doesn't require moving files from system to system. A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) moves display information, but not files. Sensitive files are left on a single server, where they are easier to protect.

In a VDI scenario, the hardware emphasis shifts from additional layers of perimeter protection to server capabilities and capacities.

Critical server components

Two critical components of the server for these huge files displayed on VDI are the storage and the display adapter.

  1. The storage subsystem will be designed like that of an online analytics processor system, optimized for rapid reads and large data transfers.

  2. The display subsystem must be able to render large files with high resolution and great speed. (This will need to be matched on the workstation end by a graphics adapter that can render the virtual desktop display containing the file at equal resolution.)

Large files can be protected if all standard network and server security protocols are observed, and content filtering is added as a layer of system protection. Health care organizations also should look seriously at VDI for the benefits that come with not moving large files at all. Leaving these files behind inside a secure perimeter can be very comforting when hackers strike. Current Technologies has helped many healthcare organizations across Illinois and the Midwest find and implement the best solution for their business, and can do the same for yours!

Which Solution is Right for you?

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Cloud or Dedicated Server?

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Should you be entrusting your data to the cloud or keeping it down to earth on your own servers? This is a decision facing every CIO, and it’s one they’ll be forced to justify and revisit regularly for the foreseeable future. That’s because there’s been no knock-out blow in the argument between the cloud and the in-house server. There’s plenty to be said for both, which means there is no blanket answer. Each individual company must make a decision based on what makes the most sense for the business.

Looking cloudward

Surely the chance to ditch your servers and outsource to someone who is steeped in server management seems like a gift from the universe. The arguments in favor of cloud computing are easy to make, especially to someone frustrated by the intellectual overhead and raw cost of maintaining their own servers.

The promises of the cloud include the following.

  • You pay only for what you use, so it’s incredibly flexible; you can scale up or down at will.

  • Security, upgrading, and server configuration are in the hands of experts.

In these days of everything being “as-a-service,” the idea of owning anything like a server seems downright old-fashioned. If Uber can run the world’s largest taxi service without owning any taxis, why on earth would you need to own servers?

Where to look closely

There are a few things you need to factor in to make sure you’re comfortable with any potential compromises.

Power: Cloud providers can’t match the power of a dedicated server that’s properly configured.

Speed: The scalability of the cloud has to do with getting more or less storage, not faster storage, which might be a concern when another customer is flogging the server you’re on.

Latency: If your cloud host uses dispersed locations or it’s not nearby, you might have latency issues

Taking a dedicated approach

The promise of cloud computing is most clearly seen in companies meeting one or more of the following criteria.

  • Tight budgets

  • Growth they can’t predict

  • Business-to-consumer models

  • Jobs that don’t need lots of computer power or storage or much time to run

A company that has a business-to-business model or has well-established usage needs and predictable growth will likely find running its own servers cheaper and more efficient. This is something you can quickly run the numbers on, and the results might surprise you, considering that “cheaper” is a clarion call of the cloud industry.

The issue of security

It’s also worth running the decision through the filter of security. Hackers fish where the fish are, which makes cloud hosts attractive targets. You’re not just outsourcing server configuration, you’re trusting another company with your security. If security is a concern, you’re probably better off keeping your servers in-house, where you can tailor security to your needs. Current Technologies can help you determine which solution would provide more value to your business and then set up a custom solution for your business.

Need help deciding or implementing?

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Data Center Upgrade: Not All Or Nothing

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Everyone wants one screen to rule them all: one console display to monitor and manage all systems in a data center. According to some vendors, the only way to achieve this management “nirvana” is to bring in the forklifts and replace every system you own in one swoop. If you have an unlimited budget and no executive committee to report to, that's a suitable and realistic plan.

For the rest of us, the good news is that there is a better alternative: updating servers as they hit the end of their life cycle according to the refresh cycle. A mixed fleet of servers can be highly manageable if you consider a handful of key issues while you're building and evolving the servers within.

Picking The Server Management Framework

Several decisions follow the initial decision of which server management framework is selected. The basic split is between a framework from a hardware vendor and a framework independent of any hardware tie. While they are alike in many ways, there are key differences that will have major implications for your hardware choices.

Hardware-Tied Or Vendor-Neutral?

First, it seems obvious that a hardware-tied management framework should be at the top of your candidate list if all your servers are from a single vendor. While each new generation of servers has features that work more closely in concert with management applications, the vendor's software will typically work with at least three previous generations of hardware.

Vendor-neutral frameworks may lack the ability to take advantage of some specific server features, but they tend to offer consistent management across all servers of a particular generation and across two or three previous generations. They also can be cheaper depending on a multitude of factors. The real advantage of these frameworks involves existing analytics packages that you want to continue using. Integration with a wide range of third-party software is a strength of several vendor-neutral management systems.

Preparing For The Future

With all of these management frameworks, one of the most important considerations is how well the package prepares you for the future, since changing the software that manages a fleet of servers is not something to be taken lightly. Whether the management framework comes from a hardware vendor or not, it will be the tool that allows you to manage new servers and server blades as they are brought into service through the normal hardware refresh cycle.

As servers become part of a growing ecosystem of platforms that support virtual or software-defined functions, a management framework that supports all components of an integrated environment, from the server to storage to the network, becomes more important.

A single pane of glass that allows you to monitor and manage absolutely everything in the infrastructure is not yet available, but you can have a data center management system that will provide direct management of the servers in a diverse fleet while allowing integration with platforms that manage networking, storage, and other functions.

Another valid option for network monitoring and management is hiring a managed service provider (MSP). The advantages of hiring an experienced MSP like Current Technologies are numerous and include spending less on IT personnel, the MSPs are experts, you can rest easy knowing that someone else is protecting your network, and it is cheaper than and easier than doing it yourself.  It isn’t surprising that 70 percent of CIOs partnered with outside experts to plan manageable growth in 2018, find out what we can do for you today.

Experience The Current Technologies Advantage

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Servers Designed For The Real World

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Extreme conditions call for extreme servers


When most people think about servers and the rooms in which they live, they think of serious air-conditioning, dust-less raised floors, and row after row of pleasantly blinking lights to let everyone know that all is well. Sometimes in the real world of IT, the world where the data and applications actually live, there are no clean floors or carefully controlled temperatures.

A new generation of servers designed for the real world is emerging. With some tweaks, you can make the most adverse conditions tolerable for your hardware. So how do you deploy servers in those situations and have the confidence that they’ll be reliable for months or years on end?

1. Room To Breathe

The first parameter to consider is temperature. It is remarkable how many servers manage to function in small, unventilated closets with no real airflow and an in-closet temperature that would be reasonable in a sauna. 

Modern blade servers tend to be designed around convection cooling as well as fan-enhanced forced air. If you know that a server will be deployed in extreme conditions, don’t stuff it full of processors or storage boards. Allow the air to flow unimpeded between the components. Modern servers are capable of keeping themselves cool as long as internally air is allowed to flow.

2. Rack Space

Give some thought to how components are stacked in the rack, as well. In many cases, storage is placed at the bottom of the rack because it’s heavy and the stability is good. In extreme conditions, it can be worth looking for secondary sources of stability — bolting the rack to the floor wall — while the heat-generating spinning disks are situated above the processor units.

With careful rack construction, physics can work in your favor with convection currents adding to the airflow and heat dissipation.

3. Stop The Spinning

Another consideration is whether it might be possible to eliminate spinning disk storage altogether and replace it with solid state drives. This is one of the tradeoffs that will involve thinking about:

  1. The data that will be generated and used on site

  2. The budget for the system

  3. Whether network connectivity is available to make cloud or central storage a realistic possibility

4. And The Rest

Other considerations will include networking, backup, and connectivity for any on-site instrumentation that will be part of the deployment. With everything that is connected to the system, look for jacketed connectors and ask your vendor about rack fan units that can keep air moving in the warmest situations.

One more thing: monitor the environment. There are a number of possibilities for environmental monitoring and reporting, possibilities that range from those that are standard in blade server frames to separate temp/humidity/vibration reporting units. Current Technologies has been designing hardware networking and storage racks for 20+ years. Our experienced and knowledgeable team can deliver you a set up that will survive any conditions long into the future

After designing the server and rack properly, then keep an eye on the conditions inside the rack. There’s no reason why your server can’t survive in the most demanding circumstances.

Functionality In Every Climate

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