Tips For Effective Cloud Computing

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Tips For Effective Cloud Computing

The cloud computing industry has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. Cloud Computing is now a common and valuable tool among businesses and independent online users alike. When migrating a business to the cloud, things like security, capacity, reliability, and employee training are just a few of the issues you’ll need to be aware of. The following are simply a few tips to ensure your cloud computing experience is effective for your business.

Backup Data

Always backup your data. One of the most overlooked aspects of cloud computing and one of the easiest way to increase the control of your data is to make sure that whatever happens, you have a secure backup of that data. Not only is it important to maintain up-to-date backups of your data, it’s also important to routinely test those backups for data integrity. Also, make sure you keep those backups stored in a location that is different from the source.

Test Security

One of the biggest cloud security concerns is the risk of breaches resulting in loss or theft of sensitive private data. The only way to make sure something is secure is to test it. It is not uncommon for highly data-sensitive organizations to hire a skilled ethical-hacker to test their security provisions. Vulnerability scanning and assessments are just as important inside the cloud as they are outside the cloud. Chances are that if you can find a way to get unauthorized access to your data, someone else can as well.

Research

Begin by studying potential cloud providers’ marketing literature. Read reviews and ask around to get a feel of the providers level of success. Of course, to find out details about how the service works, you will have to talk to them. Ask specific questions, such as, where and how data moves and where it resides, what security controls are in place by default and the extent to which the provider is willing to tailor a security solution to your needs. You will also want to know what types and levels of encryption the provider can offer to ensure that even if data is leaked it cannot be read.

The Near Future

If you have heavy applications that will not run properly on a cloud environment, don’t just write them off yet. Start by planning to change your app architecture to a cloud-centric model step-by-step. In the near future, the version and hardware of these applications will evolve and you will only have to take advantage of the changes to complete their move to the cloud.

The cloud has come a long way over the past few decades. What was once a dream is now achievable for most businesses. Establishing a stable, dynamic cloud infrastructure is one of the best decisions you can make. With the above tips in mind, you will be on your way to effective cloud computing in no time.

For more information, or if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at MaxQ Technologies, Inc. today.


Open Source vs. SAAS

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Open Source vs. SAAS

SAAS, or “Software As A Service”, is sometimes a hard sell. Why “rent” software when you can buy it? Why incur a month-to-month expense when you can have a one-time layout? Why restrict the company to someone’s existing system when customization is needed?

These concerns often lead organizations to purchase licensed software or to save a bit of up-front money by going with an Open Source program, one cobbled together by a generally very talented programming community. However, compared side-by-side, SAAS has some clear advantages over Open Source.

Lock-In

On-premise open source software often represents a substantial investment for an organization. This creates a “locked-in” environment where, unless you want to take that loss, your organization has to continue to use that vendor regardless of the quality of support and service that is being delivered on an ongoing basis.

SAAS vendors, by comparison, know that an organization can switch vendors. As a result, the SAAS vendor must compete to keep your business. They are motivated to deliver high quality service and support and

must strive for innovation and excellence.

Deployment

Open Source can take a bit of time to get deployed. You have to install it on your own servers. You are also responsible for installing and deploying patches and updates.

SAAS applications are already installed, patched, and updated on the vendor’s servers. All you have to do is upload your data. Updating is handled by the vendor, saving you on manpower.

Security

Open Source puts the security is

sue in your hands. Back-ups and protection are on your shoulders. Off-site back-ups, security updates, and anything else to keep you on your feet in the event of a disaster are your responsibility.

SAAS vendors store your data on their own secure servers. Your data is backed-up and safe, and security updates are maintained by the vendor. Most vendors will provide you with a way to quickly export

your data.

Cost Effectiveness

Open Source may seem like the winner here. Up front costs are often relatively low (sometimes even free), but there are attendant costs. You will have to pay for your own servers, security, and IT personnel. This can add up quite quickly not only up front but in recurring expenses.

SAAS charges a subscription fee, but the vendor bears the infrastructure and security costs. This frees up your own IT team to focus on mission critical tasks.

Side-By-Side

When compared side-by-side, it should be obvious that while Open Source solutions are attractive when looking only at the initial out-lay, SAAS is more cost-effective and reliable in the long run. It can give you the advantage

To find out how we can help you take advantage of SAAS, contact us today!s you need to succeed and to grow your business while freeing up resources for other important tasks.


Increasing Credit Card Security

Lately it seems that not a day goes by where we don’t hear about a breach of credit card security at a major retailer.  Some of the breaches are caused by poor security practices in relaying credit card information between retail point of sale systems and the backend systems.   Some have been breached at the backend systems where additional information may even been compromised.  Currently I am subscribed to an identity protection service paid for by a retailer. Previously it was my bank that paid.  This year I have had one credit card replaced by the issuer because of fraudulent activity detected.

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Digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Wallet protect your credit card information by not exposing your credit card number but instead submit a secure identifier through the payment processing system.  Retail chains have also proposed a new competing method targeted for 2015, CurrentC , under the joint venture Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX)  that will use QR codes to present a secure transaction token.  The MCX members Wal-Mart and Best Buy have announced that they will not accept Apply Pay but promise to offer an app for your phone.

But what about the non-retailers like yourselves who don’t use point of sale systems and need to accept credit cards, debit cards, and/or ACH payments?  Your customers likely won’t wander into your office to pay with their MCX phone app.   What if you to need to bill your customers on a recurring basis which means you have to securely store their credit card data to use for each payment?  Currently most credit card processing solutions offer protection by complying with thePayment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCS-DSS).  The PCI-DSS guidelines define how credit card data should be stored, processed and/or transmitted.  All credit card information must be encrypted at all times.

However, even using the highest standard of encryption might be risky since credit card information is still being stored on your system and hackers have proved to be quite creative.  A higher level of security is available.  This new level is similar to digital wallets in that it deploys tokens for payment processing.  With tokens the credit card information is never stored on your system.  The PCI-DSS standard accepts tokenization as method to meet their guidelines.   The credit card is submitted once to the payment processer who returns an encrypted one-time token.  For a repeat transaction the one-time token is submitted and replaced by another one-time token.

The bottom line is by employing tokens results in a more secure environment for both you and your customers.

  • Credit card data in never stored on your system.
  • Tokens can only be used once.
  • Tokens are issued by a secure service provider and not generated by your system.

For ERP, It’s really not about the cloud!

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For ERP, It’s really not about the cloud!

My daughter came home from high school and stated that “the cloud was broken”. Astounded, I asked what she was talking about. She replied, “I could not print from a Chrome book at school because, according to the school technical support person, the cloud was broken”. It is apparent that the cloud is misunderstood.

Wikipedia defines Cloud computing as “computing in which large groups of remote servers are networked to allow the centralized data storage, and online access to computer services or resources. Clouds can be classified as public, private or hybrid. Probably not what you were thinking of when you heard that last TV commercial or ad mentioning the “Cloud”

I tend to think of the cloud in more technical computer terms, as an example, on their web site,www.searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com, cloud computing as the following; “A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting. It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic — a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider.”

This is not what most people think of when they hear the term “Cloud”. To them, like my daughter, the “Cloud” is this mysterious thing, that in it, the things they want just work (or so they hope). They use the cloud to get their emails, their music, and their videos whenever they want without much thought to the technology involved.

Which is why in regard to ERP, for now, it’s really not about the cloud. What ERP users really want is to access their applications from anywhere, at any time and on any device. Instead of music and movies, they want to be able to do the things they need to get their job done without the hassle of local software installations and profiles tied to only their office machines and the hassle and expense of keeping those machines up to date. Want to check on an order or the day’s sales statistics from your tablet while in your hotel room on a business trip, why shouldn’t you be able to? Need to be approve a time card with your phone while traveling or enter your expenses, why shouldn’t you be able to? After all, you can easily watch your cable recordings or read your daily newspaper from anywhere.

Do not get me wrong, there can be significant economic savings when using public cloud infrastructure or security and disaster recovery choices on private (or public) clouds. But to the majority of the ERP users they are thinking about that one big wish “anywhere, at any time and on any device” and when they get this they will say “thanks for the cloud” regardless of how they system is really hosted.