5 Changes to Make When You Switch to Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Disaster recovery (DR) is one of the most important uses of cloud. For companies that are just making the switch to cloud computing, it’s a good first step. Since you don’t execute your disaster recovery plan every day, DR in the cloud lets you get familiar with the cloud without disrupting routine operations or putting critical production applications at risk.

It’s important to recognize that cloud DR doesn’t mean migrating your existing DR process to the cloud. You’ll want to rethink your strategy and make changes to optimize your new disaster recovery process. Here are some of the changes to make.

1. Change Your Recovery Time Objective

The goal of disaster recovery is to get applications back online as rapidly as possible with minimal data loss. There isn’t one number that applies to all workloads, as less important applications can tolerate longer outages. Whatever your existing recovery time objectives (RTOs) are, you should revisit them if you plan a switch to DR in the cloud. Depending on how you set up your cloud DR, recovery times can be dramatically reduced, particularly if you keep redundant virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud online and ready to go.

2. Change Your Backup Procedures

Recovery in the cloud necessarily requires backing up to the cloud. Your existing backup tools may be able to integrate with your cloud provider, or the cloud provider may offer tools to support backup as a service.

3. Change Your Recovery Procedures

Recovery procedures typically require restoring the latest data from tape to servers. If you’ve set your cloud DR up to be online, your servers will already be up and running with the latest replicated data. If not, your recovery process will need to define how to activate and load data on your cloud VMs. If you use Disaster Recovery as a Service, the recovery process will largely be automated but you’ll need to spend time beforehand to make sure the configurations are complete and capture all startup dependencies.

4. Change Your Disaster Recovery Spending

Disaster recovery expenses in the data center are largely hardware-related, with duplicate servers and storage purchased and set aside for DR purposes; you may also need duplicate software licenses. In the cloud, your DR spending becomes a monthly fee based on the amount of storage and how many virtual machines you use. There may also be a fee for transferring data into the cloud; there will almost certainly be a fee for transferring data out of the cloud, which you’ll need to do to resume your on-site operations after the disaster is resolved.

5. Change Your Disaster Recovery Testing

Many companies fail to test their traditional disaster recovery procedures because testing is time consuming and can be risky for the production environment. With cloud-based disaster recovery, the risks to production are greatly reduced. Tests can be done more easily, often during normal business hours, and so companies can have reassurance that their disaster recovery process will really work when they need it.

Start Changing Your Disaster Recovery Process to Cloud

How do you change from a data center-based DR process to DR in the cloud? As with every cloud project, start with planning. You’ll need to work through a variety of issues, including how data will get from premises to the cloud. Because of the criticality of disaster recovery, it’s helpful to work with a partner with experience in both cloud technology and disaster recovery. CCS Technology Group’s business continuity services will help you respond to any type of disaster. Contact us to learn more.

Additional Disaster Recovery Resources

Backups Are Not A Disaster Recovery Solution

7 Common Mistakes That Place Your Data in Danger

Why a business continuity plan is essential

What’s New in Acumatica 2019 R1

Acumatica was built as a true cloud solution from the ground up. It is designed to meet the needs of its customers — making it easier for end users to do their jobs. But those at Acumatica know there’s no room for complacency and continual improvements are needed to stay in tune with growing needs and technological developments.

The latest update includes compliance necessities, interface improvements, or better integrations. Customer requests drive Acumatica’s twice-yearly improvements. The most recent: R1 2019 features big changes to make the product better.

The 2019 R1 Release launched after acclaim for its Beta version — read the press release to learn more!

New Features

With continued focus on its award-winning platform, usability, and customer satisfaction for the broad midmarket, Acumatica — the world’s fastest-growing ERP company — launched the first of its two annual updates.

The system’s applications continue to expand in functionality, work seamlessly together across modules, and increase overall ease of performance, as a result of Acumatica’s xRP platform. Customer experiences are at the forefront of Acumatica’s strategy, as in every release the company improves the underlying system to evolve usability and improve efficiency.

Let’s look at what enhancements were made to leading focuses:

Financial Management

The core financial management application saw some of the largest enhancements, including a thorough list of improvements:

Predefined List of Currencies: A predefined list of all currencies (included in the ISO 4217 standard) is now provided within the system.  

Different Start Periods for Companies in the Same Tenant: Companies that work in Financial Management, with multiple legal entities are now able to have different fiscal year-end dates. Organizations are able to accelerate implementation, while simplifying maintenance for businesses that share vendors/stock items/employees. They will also be able to run consolidation operational reports, and facilitate the preparation of consolidated financial statements.

Order Management and Inventory

System-wide inventory tracking can help manage distribution processes without losing track of costs. Acumatica’s newest release improves inventory tracking software; here are the latest features:

Automated Warehouse Operations (WMS): WMS provides users with the power to complete warehouse operations with inventory items, such as picking, packaging, PO receiving, putting away, transferring, and physical counting by using barcode scanners. Mobile devices are also able to be utilized.

Ship-to info

The Sales Order invoice includes multiple shipments or orders with different addresses.

Project Accounting

Acumatica’s R1 release makes it easier for businesses to maximize project profitability and visibility, including those who are focused on project accounting.

Multi-Currency Project Accounting: It’s now possible to enter project transactions in different currency. Both project managers and accountants have the ability to calculate project profitability in both the project currency and the base currency, and to present customer costs in the customer’s currency.

Project Budget Forecast by Period: Users forecast original and revised budget amounts and quantities for existing project budget lines — the financial periods are noted on the master calendar. With project budgeting by period, users can forecast original and revised budget amounts and quantities. Each project can have multiple budget revisions.

Company-Specific Financial Periods in Project Accounting: This functionality provides the opportunity for companies to use project accounting within the same tenant with different fiscal year-end dates.

Field Service Management

A wide variety of features are necessary to support customers in the Field Service companies. Here are some techniques that can work:

  • Calendar Boards: This field services management software enables customization of the calendar board by rotating the members vs time axis. Changing the time range to show schedules for one week or a month, give further insight. Users are also able to reassign an appointment from one staff member to another and change the dates — viewing the agenda for a group of staff members on a particular week or month.
  • Location Tracking: Through mobile device GPS location, each and every technician can be tracked.
  • Easily Generate Invoices: Service personnel can now directly generate an invoice from a service order appointment.

Ready to Make the Move?

CCS Technology brings the freedom to work hard and play hard. Delivering IT support that is responsive, effective, and convenient enables a company to realize a true work/life balance. Through key partnerships and with a committed staff, we’re here to ensure our customers succeed. Contact us to get started!

Get the Basics Right With Better Patch Management

Success in any organization begins with mastering the fundamentals. In information technology, one of the most fundamental practices is patch management. Software and firmware need periodic updates to address security vulnerabilities and other issues.

Whether they’re released on a schedule or released urgently in response to a critical vulnerability, protecting systems, data, users, and customers requires applying patches in a timely manner to all affected systems. Far too many businesses fail at this basic process.

Patch Installation Isn’t As Simple As It Sounds

Although it sounds like it should be straightforward—receive patch, apply patch—the reality is that patching is complex. There are several reasons for this:

There’s a wide variety of systems to be patched. Patches come from everywhere. Today’s organizations have multiple operating systems, multiple hypervisors, and multiple versions of the software products they own. Keeping track of all of those systems and their patch levels is difficult. In addition, companies now have to think about how to manage patches on the mobile systems their employees use.

Patches need to be tested. No matter how important the vendor says the patch is, companies can’t simply apply it to their systems. All patches need to be tested to make sure they don’t unintentionally break a critical application. Plus, even tested patches can fail when they’re installed on production servers, and businesses need to document how they’ll back out and recover if something goes wrong.

Applying patches takes time. First, unless the process is automated, applying patches to all systems can take a lot of an operations team’s workday. Maybe more important, applying patches generally causes system downtime. That impacts business operations, and with today’s 24×7 business hours, it can be hard to find an appropriate time to perform the installation.

Not all patches are equally important. If it’s difficult to get all patches installed, the situation might not be so bad if businesses were able to get the critical patches installed. But it’s hard for companies to keep track of vulnerabilities and effectively evaluate and prioritize the importance of the many patches they receive.

Get On Top of Patches With Managed Services

One of the best ways to get on top of patches is to use IT managed services. A managed services provider is experienced at overseeing the routine maintenance of all your technology resources, including tracking and applying patches. Through their broad experience with technology, managed services providers are able to evaluate patch priority and ensure the critical items are handled rapidly. They can implement technology to make the patching process easier, using tools to scan systems to identify vulnerabilities and automation to ensure the issues are addressed.

How are you keeping up with patches? Contact CCS Technology Group if you’ve fallen behind and would like to implement a process to catch you up and keep you current with critical systems patches.

Choose the Right Approach for Moving Applications to the Cloud

If the cloud were throwing a party, it would send out two kinds of invitations: come as you are, or dress for the occasion.

Come As You Are: Lift & Shift

“Come as you are” means moving your existing applications in their current form to the cloud. You need to make sure your cloud environment parallels your existing production environment, but there’s no work (or time or money) spent to rearchitect the applications to work in the cloud.

This has the advantage of being relatively fast and low cost, but means whatever problems your applications have on site will be replicated in the cloud. It also means you may not be able to take advantage of new features and services the cloud offers, including the ability to scale automatically when demand increases.

When this approach is appropriate:

Lift and shift can be appropriate if you have to move out of your current premises quickly or if you don’t have the staff or budget to work on redesigning applications for the cloud. You may also want to keep the same architecture for external facing applications where any changes might impact customers. This is also the right approach to take if your move to the cloud is meant for disaster recovery; in that scenario, it’s necessary for your cloud environment to mirror your data center as closely as possible.

Dress for the Occasion: Go Cloud Native

Dress up your workloads when they move to the cloud by going cloud native. This requires taking time to deeply analyze your applications and their usage demands and redesigning them to best take advantage of cloud features.

Taking this approach necessarily takes longer than simply migrating “as is” to the cloud. However, the long-term advantages of the redesign can include eliminating single points of failure, increasing code reuse through a service-oriented architecture, and gaining the ability to scale the application up or down to match demand. This can result in easier management and lower cost long term.

There are some potential disadvantages of the cloud native approach, as well. Because features and APIs are unique to each cloud provider, the cloud native approach necessarily increases the risk of vendor lock-in. You may also need to change your application every time the vendor changes their API, and you’re also subject to pricing changes.

When this approach is appropriate:

If your analysis indicates you will get real advantage in terms of scalability and easier management, and you’re committed to the cloud provider for the long term, go ahead and refactor the entire application. In many cases, it may be preferable to make smaller changes, such as swapping out your database for a cloud-native database while keeping the rest of your application architecture unchanged.

Do you have the right clothes to wear to the cloud party? CCS Technology Group provides complete cloud services to ensure your applications migrate safely to the cloud and you obtain all the benefits you expect from using cloud. Contact us to learn more about how to decide which approach to take in migrating to the cloud.

5 Things to Look for in an ERP Software

Businesses are turning to ERP systems to innovate processes across the organization — a cloud-based platform can connect various functional areas into a unified whole. There is no question about the relevance or importance of implementing a modern ERP system; Gartner has coined cloud computing in 2019 as a “slope of enlightenment” phase.

Gartner predicts that the fastest IT spending category is cloud computing infrastructure and applications — out of an overall $3.77 trillion global information technology spend. Digital transformation is front and center; in fact, 72% of companies globally across industries will adopt cloud computing by 2022 based on the latest Future of Jobs Survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Modern ERP software solutions help employees work smarter, improving efficiency and visibility across the organization; this can include everything from purchasing and sourcing, manufacturing, and inventory control to sales and marketing, distribution and customer relationship management.

Many companies that are migrating to the cloud realize it’s the right thing to do, but don’t know where to begin. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Scalability and Flexibility

The first step in selecting an ERP system is to fully assess the needs of the organization at the present time. Reviewing company goals will help to ensure all bases are covered. Once initial needs are determined, look toward future needs that will be realized as the company grows — change means adapting for the future.

An ERP system must be flexible enough to scale the needs as a business matures. Stay away from legacy sites that are built on-premise or those disguised as cloud solutions, but are really a patch and run job — the company will outgrow lesser options quickly. By seeking an ERP with the agility to integrate with emerging technologies, a company is future-proofing its business!

Read more about the advantages of a true cloud ERP system, as well as fake cloud systems that businesses should steer clear of.

2. Mobile-Friendly

The way people work has changed; the advent of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) workplace and a growing amount of remote workers mean businesses need to offer new ways to do business. Employees need to be able to access workflows and data wherever and whenever they see fit, and this can be a boost to overall productivity — and profitability. If mobile functionality is limited, those efficiency gains will be impossible to realize.

Employees should be able to tap into ERP dashboards to get what information they need, when they need it. It’s also important that they are able to enter data directly from the field, as it reduces the risk of errors that occur when they have to re-enter data collected at a previous time.

3. Recommendations and Testimonials

Transparency is key. An ERP software vendor should be able to provide customer references that a company can reach out to — this will help provide an inside look into the implementation process. Reviewing the actual software should not be overlooked, but an organization must consider the collaborative experience the vendor’s implementation team offers, as well as the overall technical and business acumen in partnering with a company in the same or related industry. Give them a call, and, if possible, pay the company a visit to see how the system reacts in a real-life scenario.

Communication is king when opting for an ERP vendor. The vendor should be committed to building a strong, collaborative relationship between the two teams.

4. Ease of Use

Functional areas across the business will be working in the system daily, inputting data that relates to the department. User experience (UX) should be customizable for each function, so only the most relevant information is presented — users should be able to drill down for a more finite view. This includes contextualization for international companies that work across locales and require region-specific data and units of measurement.

A promising ERP will present the right information to the right people at the right time — all in a simple, accessible way. The system should function smoothly, addressing these needs easily. If a vendor is suggesting clunky workarounds to get a system to localize and contextualize, that’s a red flag.

5. System Cost

When looking at the cost of an ERP system, don’t get caught up just in what’s due upfront, but look at the whole picture. A company looking to migrate to the cloud should consider long-term implementation costs and the total cost of ownership (TCO). Many leading cloud-based ERP vendors offer flexible licensing, which helps to keep costs down as a company grows.

Embracing innovation is about change management and an ERP system should be set up to mirror the future of a business and its necessary processes. A solid ERP system vendor will be ready and willing to evolve as the needs of its customers develop.

Getting Started

Thinking about implementing a cloud-based ERP system? Contact us to learn more about how to utilize IT managed services to meet business goals!

Advantages of a True Cloud Management Software

Moving from an outdated legacy ERP system to the cloud is a wise choice. As businesses plan for migration from outdated legacy systems, it’s important decision makers understand that there are a lot of solutions marketed as “cloud” that don’t quite fit the bill. The “cloud-washing” of applications can be disastrous and buyers must beware.

Gartner predicts 17.3% growth in 2019 to total $206.2 billion in the cloud services market. Companies are migrating to the cloud, but many don’t know what a true cloud solution looks and acts like. How can they decipher true cloud solutions from rogue imposters?

True Cloud vs. Fake Cloud

True cloud vendors offer solutions that are built from the ground up with software that is coded to perform better as a fully hosted solution. These vendors are well versed in hosting, maintaining, and managing the software across hundreds of servers, as well as multiple levels of data redundancy in their own multi-tenant cloud environment.

Don’t fall for anything short of multi-tenancy! With a true cloud provider, all customers will typically access the same solution from the same cloud, which grants customers continuous and instantaneous access to the most advanced offerings and freshest product upgrades.

Those that aren’t true cloud solutions were designed to run on-premise. Vendors don’t typically host, manage, or maintain these solutions; instead, they turn this task over to a value-added reseller (VAR) or other service provider. This is an outdated system that simply didn’t work —- about 20 years ago application service providers (ASPs) operating under this model went out of business.

Comparing True Cloud to “Cloudy” Competitors

The reality is vendors that are really in the cloud are usually better funded and more financially secure. Advantages of true cloud include:

  • No painful upgrades: Regular and transparent upgrades provide customers with the latest innovations and benefits. With a true cloud solution, a business is always running on the latest version of software and customizations automatically reflect in the system.
  • More reliable, secure, and timely access to the system, remotely and 24/7: The cloud gives teams access to systems from any place connectivity is possible —- infrastructure is built to provide nearly a 100% guarantee for fast performance and advanced data privacy protections. This promise is built in the cloud vendor’s business model; their success is directly tied to customer success.
  • Integrate with other applications: The cloud makes integration easy for both cloud and on-premise solutions!
  • Self-service: Manage, configure, customize, and maintain cloud applications at the touch of a button. There’s never a need to hire pricey consultants to tweak the application.
  • Better overall investment: A cloud vendor helps businesses maintain their bottomline —- they can achieve better economies of scale, passing savings onto customers.

Just as there are obvious perks to fully joining the cloud, fake solutions turn out to be more expensive, inefficient, and not nearly as scalable. There are obvious drawbacks:

  • Delayed and painful product upgrades: Even if others are hosting an on-premise solution, a company will have to suffer through the same painful upgrades every time a new software version is released. Vendors make the call as when to upgrade and they also determine which customer is first in line, or last in line. Customizations need special handling, which can cause delays of months or years.
  • Costly, unstable integrations and customizations: On-premise products were not built for hosting, and are, therefore, not intended to be integrated while being hosted. Forcing these outdated systems to work with other applications — either on-premise or cloud —- can cause unlimited headaches due to instability.
  • Excessive downtime and inadequate security and support: VARs cannot provide the service a true cloud vendor can, as they lack the manpower and resources. Ask about PCI-DSS security compliance, EU Safe Harbor certification, and SSAE 116 (SOC1) Type II audit completions, as well as uptime performance and contractual uptime guarantees.
  • Capacity buying and provision: Uncertainty around capacity will result in the need to over-buy licenses. Guess on the low end and a company won’t be able to meet the needs of its clientele — it’s just too dangerous to risk failing to plan ahead.
  • Financial viability of the hosting firm: What happens if the VAR goes bottom up? Businesses need a more secure service provider or they risk losing important data and information. Additionally, a company doesn’t want to have to go scrambling if things go bad for their provider; a secure infrastructure needs to be in place.

Make the Smart Choice

There are a lot of vendors fighting for a stake of the growing cloud environment. Separate the true cloud vendors from those that feature outdated technology by looking at the facts. To help differentiate true contenders from the rest of the competition, Acumatica offers a whitepaper for immediate download. Make an informed decision and invest in a true cloud solution!

To learn more about complete cloud-based IT support, contact us.

How to Select an ERP Solution

Determining an ERP solution for a business can be a daunting and time-consuming task with many pitfalls along the way. When it comes to evaluating a system, it is important to understand the steps the organization must take to ensure the procurement process runs as smoothly as the most refined solution on the market.

With ERP systems on a steady rise, it’s important that a business selects a vendor that can meet its needs — now and into the future. A true ERP system should provide customers with the flexibility to start where they need and grow with them, adding applications and adjusting for users with an affordable and sustainable plan.

Gartner predicts 17.3% growth in 2019 to total $206.2 billion in the cloud services market. Many companies that are migrating to the cloud, don’t know where to begin. Here are some key points to consider:

System Requirements

Assessing business needs and what is required from a prospective system is an imperative first step; one that needs to take place even before reaching out to prospective ERP vendors.

ERP systems will operate across the organizational layout and while implementation may start out focusing on only a few primary areas, it’s very likely the system will grow to encompass more as time goes by. Because an ERP system grows to cover more areas and evolves with the company, it’s essential to review all departments, including those it may take a couple years to impact. The project team should be sure to consult relevant parties and establish a list of requirements.

Company Goals

Project leaders should also determine how a new ERP system will assist the business in achieving its short-term and long-term goals. This task should be straight-forward, unlike the system requirements phase. The company’s goals should already be established — look to its strategic plan and those of various departments as a starting place.

Take a look at how the ERP will assist in bringing these goals to successful fruition. Perhaps the short-term aim is to improve system efficiencies, or the long-term goal is for your business to branch out into new markets; the business should have an idea how an ERP system can help achieve business goals.

System Integration

An ERP system is the core component of a company’s primary system structure. It will need to “play” well with other applications employees use to perform their work functions. Make sure the ERP the business chooses, works well with these other systems and even potentially compliments them. Integration is a key benefit to cloud-based ERP systems, as it offers infinite flexibility.

With true cloud solutions, businesses will find, more than not, ERP systems that are widely-used and won’t buckle to the challenge of integration. Additionally, many ERP systems offer a partner network — take a look to see who they’re already working with!

Training

It’s essential that companies determine their needs before they choose a solution — this will prevent surprises that could negatively impact the budget. A misunderstanding in regard to cost and responsibility for training can severely derail an implementation rollout.

Fortunately, top ERP vendors offer flexibility in this area and will offer unlimited licenses and a broader approach to training. To make matters easier, the systems are generally user-friendly, which means it won’t take heavy lifting to get users comfortable within the system; there are also additional resources such as manuals, training partners, and user forums that employees can turn to as they’re ready to advance their knowledge.

References

Customer reviews and references play a massive part in all buying decisions, and the ERP selection process should be no different.

Seeking out references from business in similar industries and situations as your company can provide unique insight. Reach out directly to these companies, and, if possible, visit to see how the software is working. These conversations often provide the best chance to evaluate whether the system is a good fit for the business; it may also make a company aware of potential pitfalls that could lie ahead with this particular ERP system.

Budget

An ERP system implementation should be a top focus for many businesses. While it’s important to look at cost-savings along the way, make sure the system the company chooses fits its current needs — as well as where it would like to take the business in the future.

While the price should be a strong factor in the overall decision, it’s not always about getting the cheapest possible solution. An ERP system that is well-suited for a business can provide it with endless efficiencies and ultimately profit. Look at the big picture.

Getting Started

A company deserves the freedom to focus on its growth. A well-developed cloud strategy gives businesses the advantage they need, thanks to powerful tools available at any time, from anywhere. To learn more about implementing an ERP system, contact us today!

Why SMBs Should Upgrade to the Cloud

Technology innovation is moving forward at lightning speed and companies that fail to keep pace risk losing their competitive edge. This is of even more concern for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that lack expansive amounts of IT and financial resources. The quickly changing technology landscape can be intimidating for businesses without the ability to adapt at the pace of competitors.

What should SMB’s do to remain competitive? Looking to the cloud can help such organizations respond to the demands of the day with modern technology that allows them to go nose to nose with businesses of like size, as well as larger corporations.

The New Normal

Today, SMBs are taking note! Cloud adaptation is the number one trend for these businesses — something that probably comes as no surprise. According to a recent study by the SMB Group, areas where SMBs are using the cloud the most are:

  • Business intelligence and analytics (37%)
  • Marketing automation (36%)
  • Sales and contact management (31%)

Accounting and finance lags with a surprising 62% of those surveyed still using on-premise software. Concerns about data security and compliance are likely responsible, but with cloud vendors making major strides and building a new sense of trust, this is an area expected to explode. In fact, SMB Group reported 42% of customers surveyed cite better security and reliability as a top reason to migrate to the cloud.

What are SMBs looking for as they embrace the cloud? Topping the list are cost effectiveness, ease of use, and a better customer service record. A central theme among respondents identified that SMBs will be looking at new ways to use the cloud.

As of a 2017 SMB Group survey, 48% of all SMBs were planning to engage in activities that will help them adapt and transform for a digital future, while 36% were already implementing activities to support digital transformation.

The Value of Cloud ERP Software

A free SMB Group eBook gives an in-depth look at SMBs and what is driving cloud growth. As SMBs invest in the cloud and expand their business capabilities, they will be driven by key factors, such as:

  1. Cost efficiency (51%)
  2. Easier/Faster deployment (50%)
  3. More Flexibility (48%)
  4. Improved security (42%)

It’s essential for growing businesses to have speed and agility benefits that the cloud can offer, as well as having all their business-critical information stored in one database. When a company implements a cloud-based ERP system, employees are able to access real-time data and information from anywhere, anytime — driving better business decisions. A cloud-based ERP also provides visibility that can help to align messaging between different departments or areas, which in turn helps staff to present customers with informed and consistent service.

There are various cloud options available to businesses. This helps to meet a company’s needs now and into the future. SMBs are able to choose between:

  • Public Cloud/SaaS: “Do it for me” approach
  • Private Cloud: “Do it yourself” approach
  • Hybrid Cloud: “Blended” approach

Whatever the choice, it’s essential companies select a true-cloud ERP. A native cloud solution will be built in the cloud from the ground up, multi-tenant, single code, scalable, and flexible. It will not be hosted on-premise and require manual updates.

Selecting the Right Solution

SMBs should do a thorough business assessment, specifically looking at business goals, what kind of resources the company has available, and the amount of customization that’s required. An incremental, yet integrated approach is suggested. Pay attention to reporting capabilities, including third-party providers’ integration solutions.

Reviews, analysts, and trusted advisors can help identify solid ERP vendors. Limit top picks to two or three, at max, and make sure they have a “successfully validated SAS 70 Type II audit” — this confirms the vendor has made security measures a priority.

CCS Technology is familiar with the top cloud ERP options available. Our approach includes getting a holistic picture of how your business works so we can make the right recommendation. We can also provide support during deployment, ensuring your new system is up and running without any glitches. Contact us today to learn more.

7 Common Mistakes That Place Your Data in Danger

Information security is a critical challenge for businesses. Threats come from everywhere; even old fax machines can become entry points for malware. It’s easy to make mistakes when configuring or managing systems and accidentally make yourself vulnerable to attack. Take a few minutes to double-check that you’re not making these common errors.

1. Failing to keep up to date with patches

This is a major mistake with major implications for data security. Applying patches isn’t like locking the barn door after the horses are gone; it’s putting a better lock on the barn door. Without patches, you remain vulnerable to known vulnerabilities. Patches ensure you’re protected against them. Although patching systems and tracking that patches were applied to all systems can be time consuming, it’s important to create a patch routine that keeps your systems current.

2. Disabling or misconfiguring firewalls

Firewall rules are a pain to keep straight. It’s easier to enable access to a range of IP addresses than to a specific server. When applications are retired, it’s easy to forget to cancel the firewall rules that are relevant. As time goes on, the firewall rules become a complex mess that no one really understands. Avoid this problem by adequately documenting firewall rules when they’re added. Perform an annual review to validate that existing rules are still needed, and make sure updating the firewall is part of your process when shutting down an application.

3. Not using network segmentation

If an intruder does manage to make it through your firewall, network segmentation will limit how far they’re able to go, how much data they’re able to access, and how much damage they’re able to do. Like firewalls, managing network segments can become complicated.

4. Using default settings

Default configuration settings may not be optimized for security. When you use enable default administrator accounts and leave them on their default password, you’re leaving the door wide open for anyone to walk in.

5. Failing to control privileged accounts

Unfortunately, misuse of privileges by employees is a common cause of data breaches. Admins should be given individual accounts with the appropriate level of privileges, rather than sharing a common admin account. In addition, privileges should be granted based on roles rather than allocated to users individually, and there should be a periodic review to make sure users have only the privileges appropriate for their job function.

6. Not controlling mobile access

It’s great that employees are able to work from anywhere using their own devices, but this can expose your data to a wide variety of risks, from shoulder surfers to lost devices to malware installed over public WiFi. Make sure you define a “bring your own device” policy so users know about their responsibility to protect corporate data on their devices, and consider using mobile device management or other tools to enforce controls over mobile access to corporate resources.

7. Not inspecting outgoing traffic

Keeping data secure isn’t just about blocking hackers from entering your network; it’s about making sure confidential data doesn’t exit your network. This can be the result either of a breach or of employees using unapproved cloud services or even email to share files. Consider using data loss prevention software that can identify when sensitive data is being sent outside of your environment.

Keeping data safe requires being proactive. If you’re making any of the above mistakes, take action to close the security holes. CCS Technology Group develops comprehensive information security strategies that help you put effective data protection controls into place. Contact us to learn more about avoiding mistakes that threaten your data security.

Additional IT Security Resources

Closing the most common cybersecurity holes

Phishing 101: What it is, how it works and how to avoid it

The cybersecurity employee training checklist

Backups Are Not A Disaster Recovery Solution

Backups are an important part of your disaster recovery strategy, but they aren’t the complete solution by any means.

Backup vs. Disaster Recovery

Backups are simply copies of data intended to restore an old version of a file. This may be in order to bring an application back online after a failure, or to use historical data for analytics or a legal inquiry.

A disaster recovery solution extends beyond the replacement of old files to loss of complete infrastructure. The solution needs to ensure you can recover all of your lost systems within a reasonable time period and with limited data loss, even if you have no access to your data center and all your servers are unavailable. Disaster recovery typically requires a second location that duplicates your production environment, either in a different physical location or in the cloud. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) offers a third way of implementing a recovery environment.

Backup copies are usually stored onsite to ensure they can be accessed rapidly. Copies earmarked for disaster recovery purposes need to be stored offsite to ensure they can be accessed when your site is unavailable.

Planning for Backup vs. Planning for Disaster Recovery

Backups can be planned and implemented relatively straightforwardly. All you need is to make sure all systems are backed up and that the process is monitored to make sure it completes successfully. This can usually be automated, with any failures triggering an alert to IT support.

Disaster recovery requires a much more comprehensive planning process. While you need backups of all your systems, having those available isn’t enough to ensure effective recovery. You need to identify your mission critical systems and prioritize restoring them, first. You’ll want to identify recovery time objectives (how fast you need to be able to bring the system back) and recovery point objectives (how much data you can afford to lose) when developing your plan. These objectives will help you decide what kind of backup or disaster recovery technology will work for your business.

Any complex procedures for bringing systems back on line and ensuring the restored data is consistent should be fully documented. Because these recovery procedures can be complicated, the process should be tested at least once per year to ensure that no steps—or even applications—have been overlooked.

Backups and Disaster Recovery Are Always Needed

You need a backup and disaster recovery strategy even if your infrastructure resides in the cloud. Cloud providers do backup files, but their retention strategy (how long old data is preserved) may not meet your requirements. In addition, while the cloud generally provides high availability, there have been cloud outages that impacted cloud customers.

Create A Backup and Disaster Recovery Strategy

Creating a backup and disaster recovery strategy starts with understanding your systems. CCS Technology Group works with our clients to create disaster recovery plans that allow your business to survive an outage no matter how big or small. Contact us to learn more about making sure backups are just one part of your disaster recovery strategy.

Additional Disaster Recovery Resources

The top 5 reasons to prepare your business continuity plan

Why a business continuity plan is essential

5 disaster recovery tips from aboard the Battlestar Galactica