Tag Archives: Information Technology

Major risks of not choosing the cloud

Given recent high-profile media reports of cloud hacks, it’s no wonder business owners are nervous about putting their operational data in the cloud, but is this fear justified?

With more businesses accepting that not having business data in the cloud is a bigger risk than trying to manage it in house, it’s worth taking a closer look.

Not all “clouds” are created equal

Reports of cloud hacks affecting one billion Yahoo emails and iCloud’s private image store are obviously worrying, but in a business context, these events are much less frequent and rarely, if ever, related to “true cloud”.

It’s important to recognise that not all clouds are created equal.

So, what is the cloud exactly? It’s still computers, databases and the internet but it’s important to look at how it’s configured.

Traditionally, software has been operated “on-premise”, which is a single version of software on the company’s server, connected to the company’s network, on the company’s premises and supported by the company’s own people.

It is purchased and owned by a single owner who is entirely responsible for the upkeep of the system.

State-of-the-art “true cloud” solutions work differently. True cloud providers deliver an application which serves multiple customers. It’s always up to date, capable of being configured to specific needs, globally accessible, requires no IT skills to manage, cost-effective due to a subscription-based model and sits separate from client data meaning that it’s far more secure.

Then there are the “fake cloud” solutions which are a hybrid. The software, servers, network and IT skills are outsourced. It is still a single version of software, but just not on your premises, and so the benefits of “true cloud” are not being enjoyed while the risks associated with on-premise are still very real.

The issues around on-premise and fake clouds

Up until a decade or so ago, on-premise was the only way a business could buy software and customise it to its needs.

The issues of going down this route is that software can go out-of-date very quickly and having to rely on updates and IT people to maintain it can be very expensive and sometimes, upgrades cause problems.

It’s also typical for companies using on-premise software to become “locked” to a version of software and later identify IT requirements for software as a bottleneck and not the enabling force that they had hoped for.

Of course, on-premise systems that rely on human intervention and manual processes are less reliable than a properly programmed application.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for business owners to back-up financial data to a USB stick and companies to faithfully back-up their data onto magnetic tapes that turn out to be blank.

Fake cloud environments are a poor compromise. The only “benefit” to the customer is that other people are “hosting” and managing their application for them (and charging them handsomely for it!).

So, with the upsurge in so-called fake cloud environments, it’s now difficult to be 100 per cent certain where the data resides, how it is segregated, protected and backed-up and exactly who can access it, move it, write to it or delete it.

Why is not choosing the cloud such an insider fraud risk?

For most businesses, data is critical. Lose the data, lose the business. Data is so valuable that it is equivalent to money.

If you choose to go on premise, this is akin to keeping your money in a shoe box under your bed, and by going with a hosted provider or a fake cloud environment, this is like keeping a box of money under someone else’s bed! Only a true cloud solution is like putting your money in the bank.

Insider threats present a far greater risk when you choose a solution that isn’t true cloud.

For instance, when business software provider, Sage, experienced a data breach potentially impacting 280 firms, it turned out to be a disgruntled employee.

This is not an isolated case. CIFAS’s Employee Fraudscape 2016 report highlights that 153 organisations identified a total of 585 confirmed insider fraud cases in 2015. This includes 38 cases of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing commercial or personal data.

Whether employees purposely commit fraud or do so through negligent/accidental behaviour, the fact remains that on-premise servers offer insiders far greater access to the company’s valuable data.

Don’t be a technological dinosaur

Dwelling in the past is not an option for progressive business owners. A true cloud business solution could make the difference between success and failure, with non-cloud solutions proving higher risk and more difficult and costly to change.

For many businesses, not choosing the cloud could see them left behind by their competitors and quite possibly extinct.

Andrew Peddie is MD of cloud solutions provider FHL

Image: Shutterstock

Read the original article on RealBusiness

IT Success = Psychology and Planning

Installing a new business system or switching from old legacy systems is always going to be a challenge. It has been referred to as the business equivalent of heart surgery.

Understandably, any organisation embarking on this wants to get it right, but is success all about software and technology? How much of a part does psychology play? And what about the need for careful planning?

Wanting to change and being prepared for change are not the same thing. Often, it is not just the system that is changing, most often, everything is changing, from the structure, organisation, roles and culture through to working methods. If the outcome is to be successful, there are a number of factors businesses must consider.

The fear of change
Uncertainty, loss of control and a fear of greater transparency of roles and information are some of the psychological barriers people face when embarking on new business system projects. It is natural for business owners to remain circumspect, perhaps based on previous experiences or “what if it all goes wrong?” scenarios. The danger here is that the fears create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For many businesses these days, cloud-based solutions are most appropriate for their needs. Whilst it is good practice for a business owner to evaluate and manage risk, data security is commonly sensationalised to the point where fear of “hacking” and “cyber-crime” is irrational in the context of legitimate enterprise-class cloud business solutions. It can manifest itself as ‘fear of failure’ and stop the project before it starts!

So how can psychological barriers be overcome?
Change requires good leadership and significant change needs additional trust, support and confidence. A clear vision for the business needs to be well-communicated to key stakeholders if the project is to be navigated successfully.

Good research and frank discussion by business owners and (sometimes) key stakeholders is also important for addressing any potential psychological barriers before a project is attempted. Many technology firms are used to these situations and are available for face-to-face meetings with team members and customers where open dialogue and shared credentials help to lower barriers and engender trust.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
As well as the psychological considerations of change, there are also practical aspects too. By the very nature of the project, implementing a new business system is likely to impact every area of an operation. Risks as well as rewards are real, and proper preparation and planning is important. It is one thing to know that a business needs to change in order to flourish, quite another to achieve a state of readiness.

When preparing for a project, it is prudent to prepare well, especially as disagreements between stakeholders about how the business currently works, could work and should work in the future are common. Businesses much document as much as possible, from organisational structure, definition of roles and workflow (current and future) through to accounting codes, products and services for sale and contact lists. It’s a lot of work but most organisations start to benefit immediately.

Once the business is prepared for change, planning can take place.

“Diligence is the mother of good luck”
When running a successful business, taking on more work is always going to be a challenge so it is even more important to plan well, set realistic budgets for time and money and adopt an AGILE approach.

When researching technology solutions, the business needs to make sure the chosen solution has a strong pedigree and is suited to its needs both commercially and functionally. It also needs to be secure, scalable and future proof.

In addition, choosing an implementation partner needs to be carefully considered. This will be a collaborative exercise and so the business should expect good advice from the partner – it is not about being sold to! The partner’s track record and certifications need to be properly checked before a short list can be drawn-up of the top two or three – these will then need to be visited. A good partner will be helpful and constructive, will warn of the pitfalls and have no problem in suggesting customers that can provide references.

What does success look like?
Success can manifest itself in many forms and ‘what success looks like’ must be determined from the start of the project and then measured. For some, simply having all their data in one place is success, for others, it’s having an e-commerce site that is linked to inventory and accounting, or being able to get business information via the internet instead of driving to the office.

To achieve project success, addressing psychological barriers and being well-prepared for change are absolutely key, and yet these factors are all too often overlooked by businesses as they embark on their IT journey.


Andrew Peddie is MD of cloud solutions company, FHL. For more than a decade, the FHL team has utilised the NetSuite technology platform to transform business, working with small family-owned companies and global PLC’s. With experience of more than 150 projects, Andrew has experienced many of the common pitfalls that businesses experience when undergoing change.

Credit to Ambition Magazine

Link to original article: https://community.mbaworld.com/blog/b/weblog/posts/it-success-psychology-and-planning

Cloud

Top mistakes when choosing a cloud partner

Choosing a new or replacement business system can be a daunting task which is complex and fraught with risk. Cloud technology projects are no different. In fact, a project to implement a new cloud solution is like conducting open heart surgery on the business. The technology partner is the equivalent of the skilled surgeon who ensures the operation is a success with no loss of life and minimal side effects. With so much pressure on the business to ‘get it right’, it’s staggering how many companies put little thought into choosing their partner.

Read full article… 

Published on www.thecsuite.co.uk

Running Your Business on a Raspberry Pi

Unless you work for Apple, it takes a lot for a piece of hardware to make the headlines these days. We take it for granted that smaller and faster computers will continue to be developed for the mass market with the promise to help you work faster and smarter – there’s nothing new there.

Since August 2011 when fifty small integrated circuit boards were produced, hype has been built up around these tiny PCs that aim to inspire children in an educational IT revolution not seen since the days of Acorn’s BBC Micro back in 1981.

This week, First Hosted got their hands on a new Raspberry Pi Model B. Initially, the ‘inner-geek’ was itching to push this tiny computer to its physical limitations, but more importantly we were curious to see whether it would be possible to manage a business with it.
Our very own project manager gave his son the task of building a case for it, and produced a stylish piece out of Lego (as shown).

Out of the box, our Raspberry Pi came with the following spec:

OS: Debian Linux
Power: 3.5W
CPU: ARM1176JZF-S (amrv6k) 700MHz
Storage: MMC/SD/SDHC Card Slot
Memory: 256MB SDRAM (shared with GPU)
Graphics: Broadcom VideoCore IV
Network: 10/100 Ethernet
Connectors: HDMI, RCA, DSI, 3.5mm Audio Jack, RJ45, 2x USB2.0

The Raspberry Pi is capable of running any of its approved Linux operating systems with various applications for different purposes. However, we wanted to review what comes out of the box, without any modifications.

After plugging in our HDMI monitor, ethernet cable, wireless keyboard & mouse and micro-USB power lead, the Raspberry Pi instantly begins to boot up. Within seconds, the login prompt appears, enabling us to identify ourselves (using the ‘root’ user for now) and get the graphical user interface started. On-screen we have a nice image of the Raspberry Pi logo and a toolbar at the bottom similar to the taskbar found in Windows 95 – Windows 7.

After clicking the button resembling a blue starfish in the bottom-left corner, we can navigate all the pre-installed applications. Surprisingly, there are 3 web browsers to play with – Dillo, Midori and NetSurf.

We initially tried Dillo and went to http://netsuite.com. The web page loaded, however, the rendering was very primitive, making the web site look like a big, long list. Needless to say, we quickly abandoned any attempts to log in to our NetSuite account.

Second on the list was NetSurf. This time on netsuite.com there was a glimmer of hope, as the page rendered very similarly to how we have seen it in more popular web browsers. We were able to get to the login page this time, but upon logging in, a message told us that we needed to enable JavaScript to continue using NetSuite. After failing to find any support of JavaScript, we went back to the drawing board.

We couldn’t find a way to produce a screenshot out-of-the-box, so we took this photo

Last of all was Midori. This browser uses the WebKit engine, utilised by web browsers such as Safari and Google Chrome.
Visiting netsuite.com, all seems well. The page was rendered as expected and we could get to the login page. This time, we were “cooking on JavaScript” and were taken to our account’s dashboard in no time. The portlets loaded a little slower than on other machines, but they did render correctly. As this was the first time NetSuite had loaded, there was obviously some caching to do. That said, when we navigated to other pages in our account there was little extra lag, and with no nasty surprises or warnings. The only thing that was slightly off was the “Go” button next to the global search feature, but this is just a tiny blemish and was still a fully functioning feature.

After a little research, we found that Chromium (the open source version of Google Chrome) can be installed on Raspberry Pi by issuing the following command via the root terminal:

sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

Chromium may be more familiar to some people, however may run slower than Midori due to having more advanced features.

In conclusion, we think it is possible to take Cloud Computing further and manage your business using NetSuite and the very small, minimal hardware of a Raspberry Pi. In conjunction with all the SuiteApps available for NetSuite users, this is a very versatile platform that has a world of possibilities.

 

Apple is a trademark of Apple Inc.
Chrome is a trademark of Google Inc.
Debian is a trademark of Software in the Public Interest, Inc.
NetSuite is a trademark of NetSuite Inc.
Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Safari is a trademark of Apple Inc.
Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries

Specialists to protect data

Publication: thisisstaffordshire.co.uk
Date: 8 August 2012
Circulation: Online

CLOUD computing specialist First Hosted is warning businesses they are at risk of losing valuable data if they don’t have good storage contingency plans in place.

The warning comes in the wake of floods last month which insurers have estimated will cost firms more than £500 million.

Andrew Peddie, managing director at Radway Green-based First Hosted, said: “The cloud provides the perfect solution for safeguarding data as businesses no longer have to worry about the fallibilities of the office server, such as water damage, power outage, viruses and technical support, as their data and business applications are hosted off-side on the cloud provider’s server.”