Data Backup

How to Make Big Data work for You

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The "Big Data" Problem

International Data Group (IDG) tells us that 90 percent of the world’s total data has been created in the past two years. Thanks to the sharp rise of social networking and mobile computing, data is now being created as fast as it is being consumed. Making sense of this volume of data is difficult, and now businesses of all sizes are turning to "Big Data" for an answer.

What Is Big Data?

Big Data by definition is the collection of very large and complex sets of data. The term also refers to the technology required to manage, store, and interpret this data. The challenge is that most of today’s data is unstructured and comes in a variety of different types (media feeds, images, streaming video, text files, documents), so Big Data needs to read and interpret everything from documents and electronic forms to emotion and expression.

Big Data’s Big Splash

In December last year, IDG reported that 70 percent of American enterprise organizations had deployed or were planning to deploy Big Data projects. On average, the enterprise organizations had spent $8 million on Big Data initiatives. Clearly, Big Data has struck a chord among large companies because it promises a novel way to understand market forces, adapt to them, and connect meaningfully with customers. But does Big Data deliver on its promise? It depends what you do with it.

Most Customers Don't Know How To Use Big Data effectively

According to Brian Hopkins, an analyst for Forrester Research, statistics like those from the IDG study only tell half the story. He says that while businesses have improved the way they collect data, they haven’t changed the way they use it. Big Data is about insights, but many businesses are not adopting the sophisticated approaches necessary to analyze the information they collect. You don't have to be a multi-million dollar company to effectively analyze data, you need to be able to recognize trends and build strategies to capitalize on trends. That is much easier said than done though.

The problem facing your business

You may want to interpret varieties of data to help you improve your service, create a new market, or launch a new product. The problem is that you may not be able to justify the cost of extra resources to get these Big Data insights. However, there is an assortment of discrete data sources such as CRM or Google Analytics that will be more than helpful in your endeavors.

So, what should you do?

 The concept of Big Data is still quite new, but if analyzed and applied correctly, it can take your business to new levels. However, before any data is even collected, you must have a place to store it. That is where Current Technologies comes in. We can provide you with either physical or cloud storage solutions and backups to make sure that no matter what happens, your vital data will be available to you when you need it.

We Can House Your Big (or small) Data

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Why Smart Money Is Moving To The Cloud

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The benefits of owning equipment are thin when what you have bought will be outpaced within months by the next generation. The new equipment will be faster, more powerful, and cost less to run.

Outsourcing to cloud specialists means running services on better equipment at a lower cost. And not buying equipment means those costs shift from capital to operating expenses. All the expenses are deductible in a single tax year. No more carrying depreciation.

When enterprises make the decision to free up real estate, skilled staff and time by moving to the cloud, the first things they move tend to be email, accounting, software and backups.

Accounting

"An accounting file on a server or desktop is difficult to access by anyone who is not in front of the computer,” says Sholto Macpherson, editor of Digital First, a website dedicated to accounting technology. “Once it is in the cloud, a company can access it from anywhere and share it with external accountants, auditors, company directors and senior management."

That is why the cloud is where innovation is, Macpherson says. “Accounting software in the cloud can plug into many sources of data, such as e-commerce platforms, inventory and warehouse management, analytics and CRM software. Software developers are prioritizing online software, so the cloud then becomes the best source of innovation."

Email

Email is an area where vendors have significant cloud experience and supporting infrastructure. That makes it another good choice for a first move in transitioning to the cloud.

Cost savings are just one reason. When the US government’s CIO told agencies to identify at least three legacy systems to move to the cloud, many chose email. Their reasons included cost savings and also the potential to:

  • Provide more reliable services

  • Upgrade faster

  • Offer new collaboration capabilities

Software

Software as a service means lower initial costs. And there is no need to add hardware, software or bandwidth as the user base grows, because that is up to the software provider.

The software provider also manages all updates and upgrades, so there are no patches for customers to download or install.

Backup

Cloud backup avoids a common problem in backup infrastructure: a company adds storage in the primary environment but forgets to add additional capacity to match it in the backup environment. With cloud backup, you simply take as much as you need. As you add storage in the primary environment, your cloud service scales to match it.

You reduce your costs because you are not responsible for the infrastructure. And those costs can be predictable with fixed pricing.

The vendor might also offer additional benefits, like making replication between sites and keeping multiple copies.

Switching To The Cloud Is Easier Than You Think!

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Which Data Backup Type Do You Need?

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Every Businesses Storage Needs Are Different


Data is vital to your business. It likely plays a huge roll in determining every decision you make. An array of technologies exist for protecting and backing up your data, and it is important to find the best solution for your needs. Here are the most popular options:

USB Drives

USB-connected drives are not ideal for business, because they rely on human intervention, and the software is usually not very sophisticated. Thumb drives are also easily misplaced. On the plus side, retention periods are reasonably good and quality of restored data tends to be high. The larger external USB hard drives can be unreliable due to moving parts. USB drives are fine for home use but they are not ideal as a business-grade backup option.

Magnetic Tape  

Tape is one of the cheaper ways to store large amounts of data and is still a popular backup medium. However it is largely outdated and it can be complex to manage multiple tapes. Lastly it is slow for restoring small amounts of data. Often tape is used in conjunction with other backup solutions as a long term repository for data.

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device can provide large amounts of data storage on the local network at a reasonable price. It has staging options for spooling off to other locations as well as a facility for storing and compiling snapshots of multiple servers. NAS devices can be a great source for rapid restoration of missing files or folders, but they are not the right long-term data storage solution.

Cloud Backup

Cloud is the new frontier for backup. There are many cloud backup solutions, and the quality of the service varies by provider. VMWare is one of the most popular cloud computing platforms for small to medium businesses, however Google, Amazon, and Microsoft also offer effective cloud platforms.

 Offshore data storage can be much cheaper than local storage but may cause issues with speed, security, privacy, and sovereignty. When cloud backup solutions are built right, they can be robust and hassle-free, as the scheduled backup is totally automated with no disks or tapes requiring manual intervention.

Keep in mind the cost involved in sending data over the Internet and the time it might take to restore data over a low-speed connection.

Hybrid Solutions

Like peanut butter and jelly, often times, multiple technologies combine to make the best backup solutions.

Taking regular snapshots of system files and data files throughout the day can create a point-in-time, rapid recovery option for individual files or groups of files. These snapshots are best stored on your networked server or on a NAS.

At least once a day, a data differential of the changes made during the last period should be stored on a second, external storage system. This is where a second, off-site device, tape, or cloud backup are useful. The usual approach is to backup from disk to disk, then disk to offsite.

A Final Thought

If you have personal or business data that is worth protecting, it is well worth getting professional advice on what systems will optimize your chances of recovery. Backup is a simple concept but implementing the best solution is not straight-forward, so getting good advice from the experienced team at Current Technologies is a good first step. For over 20 years, we have been helping businesses just like yours find the best way to backup their data. Every business has different storage needs, so why would you buy a generic, one size fits all storage system.  Current Technologies will customize a system for you to last long into the future.

Start Properly Storing Your Data Before It's Too Late

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6 Steps To Secure Your School's IT Network

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Your School's IT Network is a Gold Mine for Hackers


The Open Security Foundation reports that 15% of all data breaches take place at educational institutions. When such attacks are successful, the consequences can be severe. Given the regularity of attacks on educational networks—and the harm they can cause when they’re successful—it’s vital that you make sure yours is as secure as possible. Here are five things you can do to make sure your school’s network is secure.

1. Use multiple defenses.

The key to a secure network is a comprehensive approach that takes into account all possible points of entry. It’s not enough to have one anti-virus program, or to encrypt only some sensitive information. Combining multiple security measures will provide the best possible defense for your valuable data.

2. Update. Update again. Then check for new updates.

According to a report by Symantec and Verizon, nearly one million online bugs are introduced per day. It's little wonder then that anti-virus programs require frequent updates to remain effective. Neglecting these updates increases your vulnerability to costly and time-consuming infections. Current Technologies recommends automating them whenever possible. You must also take care to download security patches for your browsers and operating systems as they become available.

3. Control network access.

Using network administration software, you can restrict user access to information. Apply "the principle of least privilege" and ensure users can only access the information they need. This will allow you to reduce access to sensitive information while ensuring that everybody can still do their job.  

4. Back up everything.

It’s inevitable that you’ll hear stories of students at your school losing nearly finished assignments because of a power outage or a flash flood. Don’t make the same mistake—back up everything you can, preferably in a secure, off-site location. That way, in the event of a security breach (or a natural disaster), you don’t have to worry about extensive data loss.

5. Encrypt sensitive information and use strong passwords.

Finally, it’s prudent to encrypt sensitive information whenever it’s not being used. In the unfortunate event that your school falls prey to a successful cyberattack, you’ll at least have the consolation of knowing that your files were useless to the perpetrators.

The maintenance of a secure school IT network requires you to ensure that it’s kept up-to-date and that the people managing it are following best-practice security protocols.

6. Password Management

In April this year, hackers were able to infiltrate the network of a New Jersey school, steal critical network files, and demand $125,000 for their release, all because of a single weak password.

So make sure that your school’s network administrators are using unique passwords or a suitable password manager app. You can also consider implementing multiple factor authentication (MFA), which requires both a password and a second authorization code—sometimes a secret question, sometimes a code sent to a registered mobile phone.

Don't Let Your Institution Be Another Case Study

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