Microsoft in the Cloud

Cloud is an innovative way to deliver IT software and services without the files sitting on your PCs and servers.

Social_Media_and_the_Cloud_Print

So long as a computer or tablet can connect to the Internet, it can access the Cloud.

More and more technologies are moving to the Cloud as web technologies advance and the cost of delivering hi-speed Internet drops. The latest big name brand to make the move is Microsoft. Microsoft’s Office 365 gives you the Microsoft Office products you’ve come to know and – maybe – love over the Internet. There are a lot of good things about Office 365 but before you take the plunge consider the following:

  1. Appoint an expert to help – Microsoft has appointed Telstra as it’s provider of Office 365 for small & medium business. This means you have to deal directly with Telstra should anything go wrong with your Office 365 service (e.g. a lost file or connection issue). We suggest a better option is to engage us to set-up and support Office 365 so if anything goes wrong then we are the ones responsible for dealing with Telstra. This gives our customers confidence because we are ultimately accountable for all IT issues, whether on-site or “in the cloud”.
  2. Your data may reside offshore – Microsoft has informed us that your Office365 files are likely to be residing somewhere in South East Asia although we don’t know much more than that. Don’t let this alarm you. “Data sovereignty” is a buzz phrase and concerns about your data being compromised by foreign governments are seriously over-hyped. There are however strategies to mitigate risk of exposing your sensitive documents (such as data encryption and “hybrid” cloud) and we can offer you different options depending on your needs.
  3. Cloud is only part of the software puzzle – As of today you can’t move everything to the Cloud. Most software is not yet ready for the Cloud and others will perform a lot better within your current network. So whilst you can move Office and maybe your accounting software to the Cloud right now, your practice management software, operating system and custom-applications might be better installed on your PCs and servers.

The future of cars

Self-driving cars. Are they just around the corner?

retro_vintage_sci_fi_kitsch_road_to_the_future_postcard-r590bf6e5d17d48e691893b5953319cd4_vgbaq_8byvr_512

Over the next five years we are going to see amazing leaps in the technology that drives our cars. As a bit of a techno-geek I got excited by a recent infographic I saw on Mashable (www.mashable.com). This gives you a glimpse into the not too distant future of automobile technology.

The technology inside cars is accelerating, and this explosion of innovation is expected to get even more profound in the coming years. This infographic shows the near-future of car tech, revealing what might happen in the next five years.

We’ve tested many of today’s techno-cruisemobiles, and they are loaded with gee-whiz features. The day we let the car automatically park itself while we sat behind the wheel — watching it being turned by what seemed like a ghost — was the moment we realized that self-driving cars can’t be that far off. This infographic tells us that self-driving vehicles are right around the corner, set to hit showrooms by 2017.

So the technology might be ready, but will drivers be willing to trust it enough to sit and read their iPads or put on makeup on their way to work instead of driving? (Wait, aren’t they doing that now?)

That depends on how good the technology is. All it will take is one chain-reaction accident of self-driving cars to scare people away … for a while. The technology will go through its growing pains. But when the number of self-driving cars reaches a critical mass — and vehicles can all talk to each other — the accident rate will get much closer to zero.

Meanwhile, take a look at this infographic that shows you the road ahead for car tech. Then let us know in the form what features you’re most looking forward to, and which ones you’d rather avoid.

What is big data?

Turning data into insights.

Big data

IDC tells us that 90 per cent 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 collected. IDC predicts the digital universe will expand this year by almost 50 per cent to just under 4 trillion gigabytes.

What is “Big Data”?
Big Data generally refers to the collection of very large and complex data sets with sizes beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to process. Whilst the term is commonly used to reference the volume of the data itself, it may also refer to the technology required to manage and interpret the large amounts of data. The challenge is that most of today’s data is unstructured and in a variety of types (e.g. 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 in action
There are many examples of how Big Data helps big business and government bodies.  Law enforcement agencies use Big Data to identify crime hotspots by crowd sourcing to take pre-emptive action that in the end contributes towards a better quality of life in the community. The latest cars on our roads can generate up to 25 Gigabytes of data per hour which can then be used by the manufacturers to understand driving behaviour and vehicle wear and tear. This data is used to reduce accidents and lower maintenance costs.

The problem facing big business
In a recent IDC study, which polled 300 medium-large organisations from all industries across Australia, 47 per cent of respondents revealed they do not have the skill sets required to manage big data.

The problem is that the skills required to manage Big Data are not those a traditional Database Administrator (DBA) can up-skill for. The DBA is familiar with manipulating data that is neatly indexed and filed in rows and columns. Therefore, they quickly find themselves out of their comfort zone when they have to start mapping and contextualising large volumes of data of different types and sources. Big Data work is more suited to people skilled in mathematics and physics and it gives rise to such titles as data scientist, data modeler or analyst.

There is an abundance of DBAs in the market but there are only a limited number of experts trained in Big Data. Finding a talented Big Data expert is tricky and this leaves many organisations exposed when it comes to dealing with the new unstructured data coming into their environment.

The problem facing small business
Small business also faces the complexity of interpreting varieties of data to help them improve their services, create new markets and deploy new products. The problem is that small business owners typically can’t justify the cost of extra resources to provide Big Data insights and there are no “Big Data in-a-box” solutions for a small business budget. In short, the biggest issue for small business is simply that they can’t afford Big Data analysis for the time being so they must continue to rely on discrete data sources, such as their CRM and Google Analytics.

What next?
The concept of Big Data is still quite new and there is still a lot of market hype and confusion. If Big Data is something that you want to consider for your business then drop us a line below or give us a call on 02 9386 2900 and we’ll explore your options.

Send us an enquiry


Verification

 

WatchGuard Firewalls

images (1)The Universal Business Challenge

Over the last few years we have seen the device landscape of the modern office transform, and businesses have been quick to embrace the accompanying changes in work culture, such as bring your own device (BYOD) policies and work from home flexibility. As organisations enjoy the benefits of these developments, it is important to consider the security challenges that accompany these changes in end user computing. Whether the information that an organisation needs to secure is their edge, their secret, or their confidential customer information, a security breach has the potential to ruin an organisation’s reputation, have potential legal consequences or even put the organisation out of business. Conversely, a reputation for excellent security can maintain customer loyalty and win new customers. If you’re thinking that these threats seem a bit extreme in relation to your business’ size, small business should remember that they are in no way exempt from IT security threats; last year up to 75% of cyber-attacks occurred in small to mid-sized businesses.

Systemnet understands that businesses often acknowledge their requirement for good security practices, but are put off by factors such as cost, a lack of technical knowledge, and the complexity of what product to solve which problem. Through many years of experience and exposure to the security offerings from a multitude of vendors, we have come to recommend WatchGuard in the vast majority of cases. Their products provide best-in-class security, excellent value for money, a single solution for all security threats and great management features including brilliant logging and reporting. We have found that WatchGuard products allow us to tailor the perfect solution for your exact requirements; whatever the size, or function of your business.

 

FW, IPS, UTM, XTM, NGFW…?!

As the security challenges faced by today’s businesses change, so must our response. In the past, a firewall plus multiple point solutions – such as Intrusion Prevention (IPS) and Antivirus – was considered the standard model for protecting a secure network, and security challenges were solved as and when they occurred. A unified threat management device (or UTM device) consolidates these previously segmented services into one platform, allowing the organisation to benefit from consolidated management, reduced cost, and better security as the layers of the UTM device work together. It also scraps the need for reactive product purchasing, as the security is already in place.

‘Next generation firewall’ (or NGFW) is another term being bandied about in the discourse of security solutions, but this technology is this is essentially the same as that found on a UTM device. It was previously thought that a UTM device would never be fast enough to run in an enterprise network, but as hardware has progressed UTM devices can run at multi-gigabit speeds, which makes them more than suitable for large office/ enterprise deployment. Rather than try to oppose this concept some vendors chose to adopt the term NGFW to market their new UTM devices with higher throughputs.

WatchGuard produces NGFW rated extensible threat management devices (or XTM devices), which are UTM devices with the added bonus of being scalable as and when the security need arises. Their hardware-less upgrade system allows you to add to your security system as new concerns arise, or upgrade your model as your business expands, without the need to buy expensive new hardware. WatchGuard provides XTM devices for deployment in small businesses to large enterprises and data centres, and Systemnet can help you chose the right device for your business’ needs and budget.

 

Why we recommend WatchGuard solutions…

There are of course many different vendors when it comes to choosing a suitable UTM device for your business requirements- including big names such as Cisco and Dell. While all the vendors to have capable offerings, we typically recommend Watchguard solutions because we truly feel they tick most of the boxes that are important in terms of security, performance, cost effectiveness, and manageability. Comparing WatchGuard’s XTM devices with offerings from other leading vendors there are several features that separate WatchGuard from the crowd:

  • WatchGuard allows us to control (monitor / block) usage of over 1800 applications via Application Control, which is more than any other NGFW, including offerings from Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet.
  • With WatchGuard’s innovative HTTPS inspection, encrypted connections are inspected in a way that no other security vendor offers.
  • When it comes to cost, WatchGuard maintained the highest Info-Tech Value ScoreTM of the vendor group, including offerings from Cisco, McAfee, Fortinet and SonicWALL.
  • WatchGuard’s flexible, intuitive organization simplifies workflow, and gives us tailored control over your system, as WatchGuard allows the administrator to establish policy broadly across application category, or granularly through user category, application, and application sub functions.

WatchGuard’s reputation for smart manageability is particularly apparent when this device is deployed in the secure transactional business environment. For organisations that accept payment by credit card, XTM devices allow us to segregate cardholder information from the rest of the network for PCI compliance and set uniform security policies, whilst the manageability tools enables us to access PCI compliance reports with just one click. Similarly, WatchGuard facilitate Healthcare providers looking for a solution to keep Electronic Health Records (HER) safe whilst also keeping the organization compliant with regulations such as HIPAA. WatchGuard’s XTM devices allows us to easily control and audit which personnel can access which resources. The XTM device also provides easy-to-access reports that allow your business to prove compliancy and maintain reputation. In this way WatchGuard devices provide solutions to business requirements and not just security risks.

 

Let us help you secure your business!

Systemnet have been WatchGuard partners for more than 12 years and are one of their leading expert solution providers. This is the highest level of WatchGuard’s reseller qualifications which means we have proven expertise and product certification in the entire range of WatchGuard solutions. Every Systemnet engineer is WatchGuard certified, and we have successfully deployed WatchGuard solutions in many organisations, ranging from small business’ and branch offices to large, complex, international multi-site environments. Contact us now and let us show you how your business could increase security and control whilst reducing cost and setup time with Systemnet and WatchGuard technologies! Call us for a chat on 02 9386 2900 or drop us an email using the form below.

 

Send us an enquiry


Verification