​Security Features to Consider When Migrating to Hybrid Cloud

Recent trends suggest that Hybrid Cloud is the way to go. And why not? It allows you to make the most of your in-house IT resources with a robust public cloud system. You can also easily alternate workloads between both environments.
According to the research firm IDC, the global cloud market — which includes private, public and hybrid cloud systems — would cross $200 billion by 2018. This should give us an idea of the potential the technology has. However, before you jump in with both feet, it is imperative that you overcome the obstacles of data security first.

Security Expertise

Private cloud storage allows you to have full control on the data mobility and security. You can install and customize cloud security features according to your requirements, and have a peace of mind that everything is how it should be. Most importantly, you decide who should be assigned the task of network monitoring and preventing data breaches.
Finding the right Hybrid Cloud partner, who sees eye to eye and can offer the level of virtualization and security you are looking for, can be challenging. That being said, if you are patient and research well and look hard enough, you can eventually find the perfect match.

SLA Flexibility

Due to increasing popularity of Hybrid Cloud backup services, many of the top datacentre vendors have forayed into the technology. In fact, many fortune 500 companies have rolled out their own Hybrid clouds. However, despite being built on well-established technologies, you can’t always expect top performance and reliance from the cloud. The 2014 Microsoft’s Azure cloud service incident is a prime example of that, when an outage lasted for many hours and left organizations helpless.
It is important that you take Service Level Agreements (SLAs) very seriously when choosing a provider as your data is critical, and you need to be compliant to data protection rules.

Accountability

When it comes to hybrid cloud security, organizations and vendors both share the responsibility. The latter are usually accountable for the following:

  • Network Security: Vendors can deploy the best security measures, like firewalls, anti-virus programs, etc. Plus, they must monitor the network 24/7 to detect intrusions and hacking attempts.
  • Virtualization Security: Apply security at VMM levels, ensuring optimized instances, system performance, and resources.
  • Application Security: Apart from monitoring access control, they also have to encrypt the data transferred across the network for security purposes. Proper measures have to be taken to prevent any leakage of unauthorized information.
  • System Security: Monitor files and folders for security and report if there is any issue, ensuring compliance.

While the vendor plays their part in creating a reliable cloud backup system, you as a client, should also need to implement best-in-class security policies that can protect your network environment and data from unauthorized access.

Conclusion

Hybrid cloud computing can be of great advantage if used properly. Otherwise, it could also lead to a disaster. Thus, choosing the right vendor or MSP is very important. Make sure you explain your short-term and long-term goals and state your expectations clearly to the vendor to see if they can fulfil your requirements. Insist on seeing the vendor’s certifications and its security procedures. Unless they convince you wholly and you feel very confident in the apps and systems presented to you, there is no reason to settle with them.
DDB would love to help you with your hybrid migration needs any time. Please contact us today.

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​How to Improve Your PC's Boot Time by Almost 50 Percent

If there is one thing that is highly characteristic of new PC systems, it is how fast they boot up when you turn them on. However, as weeks turn into months, you will start noticing that your PC doesn’t startup as fast as it used to be, and the annoyance increases with the increasing boot time. In fact, computers that take as long as full three minutes before finally displaying the desktop are fairly common.
If you are troubled by your PC’s slow boot time, then here are a few things you can do to improve the experience:

1. Change the BIOS Settings

Tweaking the default settings of BIOS can also reduce startup time. For instance, you can move the boot drive to the “First Boot Device” position in the menu. If there are other boot devices that you don’t use, such as CD, USB, etc. you can disable them as well. Enabling Fast Boot option also allows you to skip on several tests (mostly unnecessary) that your system runs at the time of booting.

2. Upgrade Your Operating System

If you are still using Windows 7, or god forbid Windows XP, then perhaps it is time to upgrade your system. While Windows 10 is an obvious choice to go for as it’s the latest OS released by Microsoft, if not that then you should at least upgrade to version 8.1. You will observe a huge difference in the system performance.

3. Install an SSD

This may not be the cheapest option on the list, but it sure is the most effective. Solid State Drives are much faster than your traditional hard drives. A number of benchmarks published show that by switching to an SSD alone, you can reduce the boot time by almost 50 percent.
Although SSD are indeed more powerful and faster than the typical drives, they can be quite expensive. Thus, instead of investing in a large capacity SSD, you can get a starter variant (120GB or 320GB perhaps, or 1TB), and make it the primary drive for your PC. While the data transfer rate will be largely unaffected this way, the boot time will surely improve.

4. Disable Startup Programs

Irrespective of whether you are using an SSD or not you can always benefit from disabling unwanted startup programs. These are the programs that the OS launches when you boot your computer. If many such programs are enabled, then the system can take a long time to start. Fortunately, disabling these programs is easy. All you have to do is launch the task manager and select “Startup” from the menu. Here you will find the list of the programs that are “enabled”. You can disable those you don’t need to use often, or don’t mind starting yourself later.
Depending on the number of programs and their startup impact you can easily save up to a minute or more on the boot time.
If all the above tricks won’t make a difference on the speed, we suggest that you replace the computer.

Other tricks which can boost the speed of your PC include:

  • Adding more RAM;
  • Disabling unused hardware;
  • Removing unnecessary fonts; and
  • Changing boot menu timeout values.

As far as your cloud backups are concerned, remember that if your computer is faster, your backup jobs could also be processed faster and get completed quickly, giving you more time to focus on other tasks.

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Why Networking Monitoring Tools are Important, and How to Pick One?

No matter what kind of business you are running, in order to keep pace with your competitors in today’s “connected” world, you will need a robust network that your customers, staff, and partners can rely upon.
Network monitoring allows you to minimize company downtime, and thus reduce costs. It is also useful in making the most of your network resources. After all, resources that are not used to their maximum potential are a plain waste of money.
With network monitoring, you can improve the existing network infrastructure in two manners: by optimizing resources and processes. Monitoring provides you a bird-eye view of your network, with which you can easily identify the nodes that are bearing the strain of the traffic, or hardware components that are failing, or broken links that need to be fixed.
With a good networking monitoring tool, you don’t have to spend time validating the network links manually, or check the hardware yourself in person. You get a dedicated interface with all the numbers and charts right in front of you to observe and learn from. Depending on your choice of program, you can even get automated notifications of potential problems.
Network monitoring tools are important for supplementing your network and data security. They can easily detect the source of malicious traffic, or attempts at data breaches, and even provide the recommendations for dealing with them.

How to Pick the Best Network Monitoring Tool for Your Business?

Given the importance of network monitoring tools, it is best to take your time when weighing the options. A lot of such tools are available for free, but if you are looking for something more catered towards businesses or professionals, then you might have to pay a subscription fee or buy a license.
Here are some of the factors that you must consider when choosing a network monitoring tool:

1. Features

While the main purpose of a network monitoring software is to monitor your network and help keeping it operational, your choice mustn’t be limited to that. Make sure the software you choose has support for scaling, in case your business grows in the future. It should also be able to monitor other elements of your infrastructure, such as the routers, servers, etc. Finally, it will be a good thing if it can support third-party add-ons.

2. Compatibility

What operating systems do you mainly use in your company? What kind of network protocols and security applications are being used? Questions like these will help you identify the right software which is fully compatible and works without any issues.

3. Level of Automation

Businesses don’t have enough staff to monitor their networks 24/7. Thus, automated alerting and remediation are some of the key features that you might want to look in a monitoring software. This will minimize the manpower requirement. The program should also be able to create daily reports and logs that your IT team can refer to if need be.
Data Deposit Box will always be available to help clients with not only cloud backup, data storage and recovery, but also with network monitoring needs.

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​Traditional Backup Or Disaster Recovery Solutions?

More and more businesses are embracing Data Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), as cloud solutions are trending. However, is it really the way to go? Let’s see how it holds up against the traditional backup methods.

Traditional DR Methods

Traditional DR methods typically use magnetic tapes or disks as the primary storage. However, since magnetic tapes are pretty much non-existent in today’s IT industry, we will consider just the magnetic disks, or the hard-drive disks here.

Daily Data Backup

In every data backup method, whether traditional or modern, it is important to backup your data on a daily basis. While backing up data on a daily basis is a challenge in itself, if and when needed, restoration could also pose difficulties. Depending on the size of the entire backup, full restoration can take hours. In some cases, problems may also emerge because the recovery environment must be identical to the backup environment.

Mirrored Physical Servers

Using mirrored servers is a much better option for going the traditional way. Every single change in the data on your side is mirrored to an off-site server. For instance, if you add a new entry on the database in your office, it will be copied to the database stored in the server.
While mirrored physical servers are a good option, both in terms of reliability and also in terms of time (as no restoration is required with them), their costs could be a bit higher. Not only you have to make a huge investment initially for buying decent hardware, cooling systems, and data mobility, and security systems, but also you will need to spend a portion of your monthly cashflow for meeting the operational and maintenance costs.

Cloud Based Data Recovery Methods

Cloud based data recovery methods are becoming popular for two big reasons- they are simpler, and they are inexpensive.
While there is nothing wrong having an in-house cloud system, you can enjoy even more benefits by partnering up with an MSP that specialises in cloud backup and disaster recovery services.

Comfort

An experienced cloud service provider can provide you top-tier cloud backup solutions at affordable prices. Everything from IT standards compliance to data-breach protection, and business continuity to complete virtualization will be taken care of by them. With a major aspect of business, i.e. data protection, out of the list of things to worry about, you can focus your energy and time on other important areas.

Scalability

While your current backup system is working fine, will it work for you when your data grows in a few years from now? As your business scales up, you will need to scale up your data recovery system, too. If you are using a cloud backup service for your data protection, then scalability is never a problem. In fact, you also get to enjoy upgraded security measures, as most service providers upgrade their hardware and software regularly.

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​How Cloud Backup Can Protect Against Ransomware

Amongst all kinds of computer attacks, ransomware is the worst. While malware would corrupt some files, and adware might simply make your web-browser to slow down, ransomware is just a whole other ball game. Ransomware could be taken care of by implementing a decent security procedure, teaching employees about its dangers, adding good antivirus program, and using a robust cloud back service.
A ransomware program encrypts and locks important files and documents on a computer. The attacker then demands a ransom in exchange for the decryption key that can unlock the computer. To stay off the radar of cyber security researchers and law enforcement agencies, these attackers usually demand payment in Bitcoins, making it even more difficult to track them down. So, what can you do to protect yourself? A cloud backup service that is capable of bare metal resource is the answer.

Ransomware is the #1 Security Concern for Organizations Today

A recent survey from Osterman Research* revealed that 21% of companies did not suffer any kind of ransomware attacks with in the previous 12 months, while double that amount, 41%, of the participating organizations suffered at least one ransomware attack during the same period. Another report** released by Symantec, revealed that there were about 130,000 ransomware infections in March 2016 alone. This is shocking, but unfortunately true.
Ransomware has become a major threat for most organizations around the world. The fact that cyber criminals are able to exploit phishing emails so efficiently, and use a complex set of evasive techniques to go unnoticed by even the best security programs is a matter of concern for IT security firms.

How are Hackers Able to Attack Your Systems and Get Away With it?

A ransomware uses any of the following tactics to remain anonymous while infecting your system:

  • Fast Flux, a DNS technique that helps it to remain hidden behind a constantly changing network of compromised hosts that act as proxies.
  • Traffic anonymizers such as Bitcoin or TOR. These make it impossible for law enforcement agencies to detect it.
  • It can become dormant if need be, and be made to attack the system when it’s most vulnerable. The fact it can be fast and super effective also helps in its execution.
  • It takes advantage of domain shadowing that hides the communication between the downloader (payload) and server of origin.

How Cloud Backup Help?

No matter how strong your security system is, there is always a possibility of a cyber attack. However, when a ransomware is involved, there is little hope for protection. The only way to protect your crucial business data from these attacks is to set a cloud backup system that is capable of bare metal restore.
Ransomware hackers often destroy all of your data if the ransom is not pain on time. Thus, file systems that are in the infected machine are gone forever. If you are using an in-house, on-premise, local backup system, then a ransomware can easily render the disaster recovery mechanism useless. An experienced cloud backup solution provider, on the other hand, can provide a much better protection. Make sure that you ask for a ransomware protection when selecting the cloud backup vendor.
Data Deposit Box offers a complete cloud backup and recovery solution, via software and local appliance, which provides numerous ransomware recovery options. Data Deposit Box’s technology provides ransomware recovery for granular file, folder, virtual system, databases, and complete system restores for servers and workstations in one complete SMB-focused solution.
Unlike other image-based solutions that allow for ransomware recovery, Data Deposit Box provides customized, configurable and complete granular recovery solution, bare-metal and full system recovery (workstations and servers), file versioning, Point-in-Time recovery, SQL Database, Exchange, and VMWARE generation recovery; avoiding actual backup files from become infected.
Please visit the Ransomware page for more information.
* https://goo.gl/sGtm9i
** https://goo.gl/bMb3Eg

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What are the Options for Local, On-Premise Storage?

The majority of computer users are aware of the developments in the CPU and GPU technology. They know when the new-gen processors are going to hit the shelves, or what are the best GPUs for high-end 3D animation or other GPU-based software such as CAD. While these technologies get all the limelight, other integral components of a computer system, such as the storage is put on the backburner. By using a better storage than the traditional options, you can not only improve the boot time significantly but also minimize the chances of data corruption.
There are a variety of storage options that you can choose from:

Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

The mechanical drive, or the hard disk drive (HDD) was invented more than six decades ago, but it is still one of the most popular storage devices around the world. The reason is simple — it is inexpensive, but proved to be reliable. You can get a 6TB hard drive from Seagate or Western Digital for anywhere about $300 USD.
One major problem with mechanical drive, however, is its limited speed. The average reading and writing speeds of a standard 7200rpm hard disk drive are 128MB/s and 120MB/s respectively, which can be considered slow by many companies.
Mechanical drives also tend to have a short lifespan. This is because the moving parts (actuator arm, reading head) inside the device are delicate, and even a strong jerk or blow can render it dysfunctional.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

In comparison to mechanical drives, an SSD is certainly a major improvement. Not only its transfer rates are impressive (200 MB/s to a maximum of 1500 MB/s easily), but also it is far more reliable. This is because unlike the mechanical drives, SSDs don’t have any moving parts inside them, and hence the name “Solid State Drive” given to them.
While solid state drives are usually recommended over mechanical drives, they do come at a high price. A mere 1TB SSD will cost about $450 USD — https://goo.gl/IHqXcC. Thus, they are typically used as the primary boot drives in laptops and desktops, and not for storing large amounts of data.

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Many small-scale and medium-scale IT companies use Network Attached Storage (NAS), mainly for backup purposes. This is because you can plug in as many hard drives in the system and store large amounts of data. Implementing a RAID system is also easy with NAS. Since NAS network is always active, you can also use it for implementing automated scheduled backups.

Cloud Backup and Storage

Cloud backup and storage allow you to access your files and documents from multiple devices at any time, from anywhere. Data Deposit Box (DDB) provides on premise and cloud data backup services.
DDB’s Smart Storage devices, powered by its patented continuous data protection technology, offer the SMB a cost effective local & cloud storage and recovery solution for Files, Folders, MS Exchange, SQL, VMWARE, System State, Bare Metal & more.

Conclusion

IT experts recommend using cloud backup and storage services as the primary option, and add on-premise, local backups as a secondary solution. Cloud service providers have in-house experts, whom you can get professional support from. If you are looking for convenience, reliability, compliance, and top-notch data security measures, then cloud backup and storage service coupled with on-premise local storage is your best bet. If you are already using a storage system that’s not cloud-based, we encourage you to take action as soon as possible.
Why not contact DDB and find out if cloud-based and on-premise backups are for you?

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Is the Data Backup and Recovery Business Declining?

One of the worst fears of every business owner is reaching a saturation phase. As it has been a long time since the first comprehensive Backup and Data Recovery solution was introduced, IT businesses, especially, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are wondering if the BDR industry has reached a point where it’s no longer profitable. The answer is a resounding “no”.
The Rightscale 2016 State of the Cloud Report [1] on latest cloud computing trends, sheds light on some important results that show that there is still a considerable gap in the IT industry that can only be filled by MSPs.
Here are some of the report’s most notable points to consider:

  • 32% of the respondents cited the lack of proper resources and expertise as their biggest challenge for not migrating to the cloud.
  • 17 percent of IT companies have 1,000+ VMs in public cloud, a jump from 13 percent in 2015.
  • Hybrid cloud usage also showed growth, and went up from 58% to 71%.
  • 29% cite security issues as a hindrance to moving to the cloud.

The facts state the obvious — IT companies still need quality cloud service providers, which not only can provide the bare essentials, but also a comprehensive toolset that can provide full virtualisation, data mobility, disaster recovery, business continuity, and more.
Since companies find it very difficult to find experts in the cloud computing space, they don’t get to use their private cloud services to their full capacity.
IT companies are also struggling with keeping their costs down, which is evident from the published report. This problem, however, can be easily solved by making use of managed service provider, who has the expertise and can distribute and deploy the available resources in the best way possible.

Disaster Recovery Marketing is to Grow

According to a study by MarketsAndMarkets [2], the Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) market is estimated at $12 Billion industry by 2020. MSPs specialising in Backup and Disaster Recovery solutions can scale their businesses focusing on that, and grow their business. Most small scale businesses and startups are not prepared for disasters, and since they can’t afford to build a standard recovery system themselves, an MSP is their best option.
According to another report, published by MarketsAndMarkets [3], the cloud storage market size is to grow from about USD 24 Billion in 2016 to about USD 75 Billion by 2021. Such reports are written based on a number of assumptions and as a result, the growth rates might be different depending on who wrote the report. However, one thing that’s certain is that BDR market is here to grow.
In order to keep pace with the growing demand and stay on top of the developments, a competitive MSP must ensure that they are clear in communicating their messages to their customers. All parties involved — the vendor, the MSP, and the customers — need to put an effort in understanding why MSP services can benefit their businesses.


Source links:
[1] — https://www.rightscale.com/lp/state-of-the-cloud
[2] — https://goo.gl/OeVSzZ
[3] — http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/cloud-storage.asp


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Migrating from Tapes to the Cloud is a Sign of Maturity

Technological advances have made it simple to transition from tape backup to cloud backup and recovery solutions. However, migrating years of data to the cloud is not a simple task. It requires thoughtful consideration.

Which Data Need to be Migrated?

Not all data needs to be migrated from tape to the cloud. Data lifetime requirements have an impact on what kind of data needs to be migrated from tape to the cloud. Short life term data may or may not be migrated to the cloud. The data can be retained on tapes and the server running the proprietary backup software may be maintained by the customer till all the lifetimes of the data have expired. Thereafter, the server and the software can be retired. Data with long-term data lifetime requirements will have to be migrated to the cloud to comply with present legal requirements for that data.

Recovering Old Data in Tapes

Tape technology itself is changing. The newer technologies / software is not made backward compatible, and much of the data copied onto tapes in the past become irrecoverable. Further, the tape owners and cloud vendors may not have access to the software that can read the data. So, the data will have to be read at the customer location using the appropriate proprietary software that was used to write the data and the output copied to a temporary location before it can be transferred to the cloud vendor’s storage.

Optimization and De-duplication

One of the significant advantages of migrating tape to cloud is the potential optimization and de-duplication of data. Incremental backup, differential backup and a host of other kinds of backup technology can be used to ensure that backup happens continuously or within a scheduled time frame efficiently and effectively.

Backup Failures Tracked

Backup failures can be tracked and corrected instantly with alerts being generated for every success or failure of a backup. Replication of data or mirroring of data is almost automatic in the cloud, but this is not the case if you are using tapes. Disk to disk replication can be automated and data can be replicated onto one or more geographically dispersed servers to ensure high availability of enterprise information. There are no replication costs, transportation costs or extra storage costs involved in the process! Further, the cloud is infinitely scalable and globally accessible, unlike tape backups.

Always Accessible

Simple web interfaces are available over the Internet and provide secure access to the information stored on remote servers in the cloud from any part of the globe 24 x 7. Data security is ensured with user access protocols and encryption of information in transition and storage.
Migrating from tape to cloud is a sign of maturity of the SMB and the enterprise. IT needs to follow technology and the cloud, unlike the tape, makes it easier to do so.
Data Deposit Box (DDB) is an award-winning cloud data backup and recovery solution, specifically designed for small, mid-sized to enterprise organizations. DDB is differentiated by its numerous value-added and industry leading features – agentless technology, on-site portable local storage, multiple off-site data centres, and virtual environments support.
About the Author: Troy Cheeseman is the President and COO of Data Deposit Box, a publicly traded (OTC: DBB), Toronto-based cloud backup service provider.

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Is It Any Good to Work with Managed Service Providers?

In Part I, we discussed how organizations can take advantage of working with MSPs to proactively save their resources. In Part II, we will further discuss other advantages of working with MSPs.

Hire or Outsource?

IT recruiters can tell you how difficult it is to find the right IT professional for a specific role. It is not because there are no qualified IT professionals, it is usually because the perfect fit is hard to come by. IT environments typically have a mix of applications from small, medium, large and niche providers – matching a resource that has the right knowledge is a long-drawn task. In addition, you need to manage the employees and provide benefits and training, have a backup person who will fill in when they want to take vacation or time off or sick days or leave for another opportunity. Outsourcing comes in handy as it will mitigate all these risks.

Filling of Organizational Gaps

IT is an important department of almost every company in today’s digital era. However, not every company works in the IT industry itself, which is why their expertise and focus might be reserved for other areas, such as marketing, recruitment, consulting, etc. In other words, not every company has a perfect IT workforce, and thus, organizational gaps exist. An MSP can be instrumental in filling these gaps. An MSP works at the core of IT, which is why not only they can improve the existing IT infrastructure, but also train your employees to develop better data management habits for improved cloud computing, online backup, and data protection, etc.

On-Demand Infrastructure

Depending on the scale of your business, writing the code for your entire cloud structure that covers the essential elements viz. cloud backup, secure cloud hosting, admin panel, centralized management system, log and alert system, etc. can take weeks, if not months. Even after the infrastructure is created, there is no telling if any vulnerabilities are left. It will take a considerable amount of time to perfect the system. An MSP, on the other hand, has all the essential tools and scripts for configuring and running a cloud-based infrastructure. Depending on your requirements, the provider can tweak its standard systems and get it up and running in a matter of a few days, allowing you huge time and money savings. In addition, you will enjoy a peace of mind knowing that your IT services are managed by an expert.

Conclusion

A lot of companies don’t realize how poorly they are doing in terms of their IT infrastructure until they see the improvement after joining hands with an MSP. It is no surprise managers often express their regret later, believing they should have acted sooner. If you have not worked with an MSP before, you can still give it a shot and observe the impact first-hand.

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Is It Any Good to Work with Managed Service Providers?

The IT department of any average business has to handle a variety of tasks, including cloud storage, cloud computing, cloud backup, data protection, data mobility in the data management areas, and a plethora of other tasks while ensuring compliance within a set of IT standards. Needless to say, IT department’s workload is tremendous, which is why considerable resources are allocated for its seamless operation.
Studies have shown that most companies use only a third of their available IT budget for new projects and initiatives, and the remaining two-third is used up for merely keeping the IT system up and running. However, with a Managed Services Provider (MSP), you can change all this, possibly reverse these numbers.
An MSP can reduce your IT costs by managing your company’s entire IT infrastructure remotely for a set, affordable fee. Outsourcing your IT needs to an MSP is not only convenient but also allow you to make the best use of your resources and minimize other associated costs.

Here are some of the major benefits of working with an MSP:

Predictable Costs within your Budget:

IT related costs are very often seen as expenses and widely considered unavoidable expenses to keep the company going. This means, there is no room for a “break-fix” type of model, which causes your monthly expenses to go up and down and fluctuate. This, in turn, will cause increased strain in budgeting and planning. To work around this problem, MSPs can sit down with you and come up with options so that you can pay a flat fee and divert your focus on what you do best — your business — and take the guessing out of IT budgets. Your company’s goals become aligned under such flat fee structure — any technical issues will be taken care of by the MSP, not by your local technical resources, reducing your costs. It will be in the best interest of the MSP to act quickly in the case of any issues. If not, both parties lose revenue if the issue is not handled in an effective and timely matter.

Proactive Approach

An MSP monitors your IT systems 24/7, which means problems related to the infrastructure can be detected in early stages, and fixed before any major damage takes place. For instance, data breaches can cause significant loss of important data, but with an MSP you can limit the risk almost completely through its high-level online backup mechanisms.
Another benefit of the MSP’s proactive approach is minimum downtime in an event of setting up and running cloud backup and/or cloud computing services and also recovery during a disaster.
Continued in Part II …

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