• August 22, 2019
  • Catagory Managed Cloud Services

Ready to mix and match with multi-cloud?

By : Justin Folkerts

Hybrid cloud environments are constantly evolving and today one cloud is no longer enough—diverse workloads mean you must be ready to embrace a multi-cloud model.

Whether it’s one, two or more of the public cloud such as Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle or Google, or turning to a managed IT services provider to help you leverage economies of scale, it’s likely you’re already facing the realities of multi-cloud, including the benefits and the challenges.

What is multi-cloud?

A hybrid cloud brings together an on-premise data center (a private cloud built on cloud technologies) with a public cloud, while multi-cloud brings together multiple cloud services from different providers, both public and private. In the same way organizations might have chosen a best-of-breed approach to their on-premise applications deployment, the multi-cloud paradigm allows for the selection of the best cloud provider for a given workload.

The multi-cloud model is driven in part by open source and the desire for organizations to leverage cloud technologies to best serve customers, suppliers, partners and even employees. Further accelerating the momentum of the multi-cloud is the ability to run services from providers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) in a private data center thanks to Azure Stack and AWS Outposts. Add the ability to run VMware on AWS, and organizations can mix and match cloud services as much as they want to meet the specific requirements of any given workload.

The right cloud for the right workload

Like the best-of-breed approach to on-premise software applications, multi-cloud offers many benefits, including the ability to pick the right tool for the right job on a case by case basis, rather than just one provider that may excel on one capability while lacking robustness in others.

Similarly, it allows you to avoid being locked into a single cloud provider and take advantage of innovation from a variety of vendors, while also enjoying the flexibility and scalability you need as your business grows and your needs evolve. A multi-cloud strategy also gives you some measure of control, including cost governance, as public cloud strategy can sometimes cost more than a private cloud approach, depending on the workload.

More clouds, more challenges

Running a multi-cloud environment is not without its challenges, however. Not all clouds are equal and not all providers do things the same way. AWS and Microsoft Azure might offer the same service, but have different processes, so what the customer is responsible for on their side may differ depending on the provider.

Using a mix of cloud providers can add even more complexity to compliance and security too. Not only do you have to worry about your own data center being compliant with industry standards and regulatory frameworks such as privacy legislation, but you need to be certain your providers are up to snuff too by understanding all compliance requirements and creating the necessary policies.

While cloud providers may tout their security features, you still need to have the right in-house resources to manage application and workload security in a multi-cloud environment, which makes identifying and containing security threats even more complex. This includes securing connectivity across the multi-cloud environment—after all, data is the lifeblood of your business, and a multi-cloud environment means mean you need to securely and cost-effectively move data between one cloud provider and another, as well as to and from your own data center.

Get help with multi-cloud management

If you’ve already embraced the hybrid cloud, you’re in a good position to take advantage of multi-cloud. But as with all IT infrastructure demands, there’s a lot to be said for tapping the expertise of an experienced managed service provider to help you with some of the heaving lifting. They already have solid track record of managing, securing and optimizing multi-cloud environments, which enables you to focus on strategic initiatives without add more to your plate.

Recovering from any disruption requires the right people. When it comes to disaster recovery plan, success will depend on quickly mobilizing a team to maintain business uptime.

Every user in your company can be affected by an incident that is escalated to a disaster. By identifying people you will need to quickly restore operations as part of your planning, ideally your customers won’t be affected because you’ll be able top to bounce back quickly and minimize the disruption to business operations.

Keep disaster recovery reflexes sharp

Your disaster recovery plan should include a management team that takes on the critical responsibilities and decision making, starting with whether the disruption is in fact a disaster.

If it’s concluded that the incident is severe enough to meet the criteria, your disaster recovery team must mobilize and do the following:

  • Manage and coordinate the disaster recovery plan
  • Activate other staff in the organization, as well as your service provider, in priority—some people may be needed immediately, while others need to be on standby depending the role in the plan
  • Ramp up any alternate facilities and secondary sites
  • Review the recovery procedures to be activated that will support your recovery objectives

Who should be on the team?

There are several key roles that should be already be assigned by your disaster response management plan before a disruption occurs.

Assemble your disaster recovery team in advance!
The success of any disaster recovery plan depends on how quickly a team can be mobilized to maintain business uptime

Your information security group should always be represented on your disaster recovery team, as they have specific, specialized responsibilities, including a review of the recovery goals, understanding the magnitude of the damage, and making sure information security procedures are followed by the disaster recovery team. They can also assist with the preparation of an accurate news media statement that outlines a description of the incident, how and when it happened, and who will be affected and how.

Other team members include a disaster recovery coordinator to liaise with your service provider and any vendors that might contribute to the affected infrastructure. Their job should also be to set up a schedule for status updates throughout the recovery process right up until full restoration.

Another important role you must fill is that of a disaster recovery crisis manager, whose job it is to keep everyone informed on latest developments and be a single point of contact for all team members. They have several critical responsibilities, including:

  • Making sure all users and are familiar with the disaster recovery management plan.
  • Provisioning additional telephone lines for extra staff if needed.
  • Getting a snapshot of activities in progress when the disruption happened from the information security team, an estimate as to how long these activities will be delayed, and when the next update can be expected.
  • Developing a public statement approved by disaster response management team that can be distributed to everyone affected, including customers and users, as well as media. Multiple statements may be required, including one when the recovery operation is done, and regular business activities have resumed.

Having a well-thought disaster response management plan in place will only be effective if the right people there are to executive as soon as the alert is sounded. You should frequently revisit your plan to confirm the people assigned to these critical roles understand their responsibilities and that they are still available should disaster strike.

If you haven’t begun to think about disaster recovery planning or feel your plan needs an update, check out our Disaster Recovery Primer.

  • February 22, 2019
  • Catagory Managed IT Services

Prime Yourself for Disaster Recovery to Maximize Business Uptime

Every organization today is data driven, regardless of size, and it’s just a matter of when, not if, that data is put in jeopardy. For small and medium-sized business with resource and IT infrastructure constraints, it can seem an overwhelming challenge to prepare an effective disaster recovery plan and maximize business uptime.

The good news is that cloud computing allows smaller organizations to enjoy the same peace of mind large enterprises have with the help of an experienced technology partner who help you lay out at plan of action when disaster strikes.

What you should expect from a solid disaster recovery plan

The point of any disaster recovery plan is to make sure there are steps in place to restore any mission critical applications and data after a disruption. It outlines all the all the activities, resources and procedures in the event of a disaster so you can ensure business uptime and return to normal operations as quickly as possible in the event of a disruption.

It starts by notifying everyone who needs to be part of the solution that there is a problem, whether it’s company staff or resources at your service provider, and outlines who’s responsible for what. Once the process is underway, the recovery phase should enable you to restore temporary operations and repair any primary system damage. There’s a lot that needs to happen during the recovery, and an effective disaster recovery plan will coordinate and facilitate communication between all parties involved.

Mapping the connections

There’s also a lot of moving pieces that must be considered. A disaster recovery plan should identify the processes that are in scope, who is responsible for those processes and all the interdependencies affected by the disaster.

Dependencies will help establish the severity of the disaster—one single glitch may be just that or could have a much broader impact on business operations. When a single resource becomes unavailable, it affects many user and customers, and disrupts multiple business processes. Here are some examples of dependencies your disaster recovery should keep in mind:

  • Reporting and analytics: Collection, logging, filtering, and delivery business data to relevant stakeholders may stop working and the user interface layer may or may not be also affected.
  • Interfaces: Users at all levels, including administrators, may be blocked from accessing software and systems, whether it’s on the client or server side, through web interface or downloaded application.
  • Networking: Connectivity to necessary resources could be slow or disappear completely. compromised and/or significant latency issues in the network exist that result in lowered performance.
  • Storage: Even if your connectivity and applications are functioning, the failure of a storage resource such as storage area network (SAN) could block access to a handful of files essential for running the business.

There are many more dependencies, and your service provider is well-equipped to help you identify them so you can quickly resolve issues and take advantage of secondary infrastructure in case of an interruption that has a broad impact on your business.

If you haven’t begun to think about disaster recovery planning or feel your plan needs an update, check out our Disaster Recovery Primer.

  • January 25, 2018
  • Catagory Hybrid Cloud

Ready to take the fast lane to the public cloud?

Risk, security and speed are the three elements we find small- and mid-sized enterprises are most concerned about as they ponder moving data or applications to the public cloud.

That’s why Supra ITS recently made the investment to let customers connect directly to Amazon Web Services (AWS) using AWS Direct Connect and to Microsoft Azure using ExpressRoute. These “fast lanes” to two major public cloud platforms are being offered at no extra cost for our customers as part of their managed hybrid cloud that’s already managed by us.

Selection and Security

As major cloud vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and Google expand their footprint on Canadian soil, we’re seeing that interested customers want flexibility – they’re not picking only one vendor. Rather, they’re using multiple cloud platforms depending on the data or the workload. For example, AWS is popular for elastic storage, while Microsoft Azure’s appeal is the ability to run AWS workloads. At the same time, customers are continuing to maintain their own private clouds, either on-premise or managed by someone else. Most likely, they are combining all three in a hybrid model.

The fact that the major public cloud players are opening Canadian facilities means they’re addressing the data sovereignty issue that keeps many organizations from embracing public cloud. Now they can be assured their data stays in Canada, whether it’s on the move or being stored. Our part of the equation is that we have Tier 3 data centres in Canada that connect to these cloud platforms. We’ll soon make available similar direct connections to Oracle and Google public cloud infrastructure.

The Last Piece of the Public Cloud Puzzle

Offering direct connections to Amazon using AWS Direct Connect and to Microsoft Azure using ExpressRoute is the last piece of the puzzle that address the risk, security and speed. These direct, secure connections to major public cloud platforms are part of Supra ITS’ overall commitment to helping customers be “public cloud neutral.” It enables our customers to embrace a true hybrid cloud model that is fast and secure because data is not being transferred over the public internet.

Reduced latency and improved performance, of course, are the obvious benefits of a direct connection to the public cloud. But in this era of frequent data breaches and increased privacy regulation, security can be a deal breaker when companies consider moving to AWS or Azure. By putting in place these fast lanes to the public cloud, combined with our existing end-to-end security that spans our customers’ on-premise IT infrastructure, the public cloud services and our own data centres, we’re able to mitigate the risk of public cloud adoption.

Set-up costs for the connections are normally included as part of transition services for Supra ITS’ managed IT customers, and the ongoing costs are included for those customers where we manage their private and public cloud. Other AWS and Azure costs are extra and depend upon the usage.

A Partner for Public Cloud Success

Cloud computing is no longer the future, it’s reality. As noted by research firm InfoTech, there’s been lots of hype about cloud, but the adoption trends are real, and Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are leading the charge. At the same time, private clouds – both — on-premises and in hosted services – continue to grow. This presents an opportunity to transform IT to be an effective broker of services from the hybrid cloud.

At Supra ITS, we see our role as being a guide and resource for small- and mid-sized enterprises that are looking at how best to incorporate public cloud into their overall cloud strategy, whether it’s Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Oracle. Our neutrality enables customers to combine their on-premise, private cloud and public cloud deployments to fully take advantage of the full benefits of a managed hybrid cloud model.

  • March 30, 2016
  • Catagory Managed IT Services

2016 – Trends of Managed IT Services

2016 Technology Trends

And so, the need of the hour is a third party service provider which will support, manage and monitor your technology infrastructure. These companies go to great lengths to make your business flourish by offering you Managed IT Services that will help your business in the long run. Following a strategic plan, they install the most contemporary technology and the latest software and tools which help you stay ahead of your competitors in the domain.

Armed with the extensive know-how of the domain, they offer you excellentIT Managed Services that are highly advanced. Being a pro in all the sections makes them capable of handling network, hardware, exchange server, software and even repair, for that matter. By offering you round-the-clock assistance, they make sure that your IT setup doesn’t have to face any technical snags, making your business operations extremely smooth. Apart from this, they also keep a back up of all your data in place, in case of a disaster when recovery is not an option.

In the modern IT setup, a Managed Service Provider acts like an added advantage instead of just being a cost-effective alternative to the in-house IT team. By conducting an extensive research on your business, they understand your business requirements properly. Then after consulting you, they will come up with some customized options, exclusively made to fit your business model. Walking hand in hand with technology, they constantly upgrade your tools and software, which gives you a competitive edge in the industry.

Assuring you of the quality, these firms offer you safe and secure Managed IT solutions, which are otherwise too complex to handle. By organizing your business operations, they take everything under their control and monitor your business with hawk eyed scrutiny. Also, they are equipped with highly advanced methods that are capable of detecting any fault in the service delivery, which they ultimately do away with. And the best part is that their service rate card is fixed, so any amount of troubleshooting on their part won’t burn a hole in your pocket. So, with no headache of IT maintenance on your mind, you can focus on your key business and work for its betterment.

Working for the constant improvement of your business, these service providers offer you excellently Managed IT Solutions that have a big role to play in your business excelling. They centralize the whole system thereby making all the data available to anyone with the authorized security code. This helps you organize your operations better by letting more than one person access the same data at the same time.

  • April 10, 2016
  • Catagory Managed IT Services

Are Mid-Sizes Organizations taking a risk for Managed IT?

With businesses still reeling from global recession knockout, a midsized business can retrieve by turning to providers of robust Managed IT Services. Its complete process- utilizing shared platforms and Opex-based cost structures–can benefit in reducing costs as well as provide a vital competitive edge.

Business Technology

General Perception on Mid-Sized Organizations

It’s commonly observed that mid-sized organizations react to the current economic conditions by axing on costs. But, in the long run when the economy picks up, this approach may not stand fitting.

Industry experts though, believe that moderate organizations avoid applying such steps compared to their larger counterparts. Nevertheless, time and again it’s observed that smaller organizations are usually more vulnerable to downturns compared to large firms, yet they also excel in managing through them. Small firms on common grounds stand out to be more efficient and flexible. Rather than the cut cost strategy, they go the other way round. They maintain a stronger customer relationship as well as greater labor flexibility with a bond of trust between managers and workers.

However, many small firms miss the mark of streamlining their systems owing to low funding for in-house expertise. But, despite having budget for in-house expertise, while complying with the vast nature of the computing industry, firms might need external help when an issue falls beyond their experience. Fortunately, Managed IT Services pave way for businesses to have enterprise grade expertise at a cost much affordable than having an in-house IT team.

Turning to Managed IT Services- A synchronized Approach

Bidding to contain costs, several mid-sized businesses prefer opting IT Managed Services to align their IT requirements with their business needs. Managed IT Services structure the auxiliary tasks, while the staple tasks keep rolling. Here is a brief insight on few of the features:

  • Reduce capital expenditure– The crucially Managed Services potentially offer mid-sized organizations a way to escape the need to raise precious capital. This is done by utilizing services that charge them on a per-user or per service basis without having to spend on hardware or software.
  • Exposure to cutting-edge technology-This service allows smaller organizations access to best-of-breed technologies within your means the services are known to be deployed fast yet economically.
  • Human Resource facility– Managed Services potentially fix staff recruitment and retention related concerns.
  • Synchronized Business Operation– With economic downturns uncurbed yet, more than the cost factor, mid-sized organizations are looking for enterprise-caliber Managed Services. With this service, they believe to achieve a competitive edge with operations more streamlined and effective.
  • Leverage onsite resources– With Managed IT Services to their stride, mid-sized enterprises get their onsite resources leveraged. This allows them not only compete with their contemporaries but also with larger and highly resourceful organizations.
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery: This service provides protection against data loss and to improve the business continuity plan for an organization.
  • Proactive approach– Many of them are implementing processes to ascertain that their business is ready when the upturn comes. Entrepreneurs are seeking Managed Service providers who can arrange for a network of adept partners. The vendors who can provide local, industry-specific guidance for IT, regardless of their business field.

Choosing the right provider for Managed Services can help businesses ascertain secure and scalable IT services platforms. Once allotted, the provider of Managed Services would solely take care of the availability, performance, and reliability of a business’s IT processes and computing competencies. Able risk management whilst emphasizing on core business progress, Managed IT Services helps a business grow at every stage.

  • April 19, 2016
  • Catagory Managed IT Services

Storage Management Solutions are a perfect fit for SMBs

Such is the nature of technology and business today that predicting storage requirements in line with upcoming projects, new developments, clients or teams is not always easy – or even possible. A flexible, secure, cost-effective managed storage service becomes a viable solution.

Cloud Storage

Further, due to recent technology developments and the lower cost of cloud infrastructure – plus the plethora of managed cloud services now available – the mass migration of SMBs to a managed storage solution now seems more of an inevitability.

IBM estimates that storage requirements are doubling every year. At the same time, Gartner posits that the cost of managing data can be as much as 300–500% the cost of buying it. When you consider that the leading cause of exploding data volume is email, and acknowledge that the demand for backup and disaster recovery solutions is a universal one, the facts draw a clear picture of storage management being every bit a challenge for both mainstream SMBs and giants alike.

Many organizations are finding the budget and resource requirements involved in building in-house storage facilities for their servers are prohibitive when compared to alternative network storage strategies such as Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) solutions, which result in lower management and infrastructure costs.

BENEFITS OF MANAGED STORAGE

  • 24X7X365 availability of data
  • Flexibility – instantly scalable up or down according to need
  • Low to no infrastructure and capital investment costs
  • Security – data protected by latest version of leading security software
  • Backup and disaster/data recovery protocols ensure business continuity
  • Optimized desktop and network performance
  • Even monthly payment plans make budget planning easier
  • More business insights gained by easy access to more data

The overwhelming advantage of a storage management services are the affordable cost of entry and the scalability of services to accurately meet needs that can change on a dime or over time.

  • July 1, 2016
  • Catagory Managed IT Services

The Competitive Advantage of Outsourcing

Competitive Advantage of Outsourcing

A study by technology not-for-profit CompTIA revealed that 9 in 10 businesses using managed service providers for at least one service are happy with the relationship and service being delivered. Improvements in several key areashave proven most appealing:

  • New cost and process efficiencies
  • Reduced/Removed infrastructure purchases and updates
  • Decreased drain on internal resources
  • Increased organisational productivity
  • High-quality helpdesk services
  • Lower total cost of technology services

Almost half of the companies surveyed reduced total IT expenditure by up to a quarter by moving some parts of their technology environment to a managed services arrangement, and 13% stated as much as a 50% reduction in spend.

The IT Outsourcing Statistics study, 2011/2012, identifies the most popular managed IT services as follows:

  • Managed IT Security
  • Managed Network Infrastructure
  • Application Development and Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Managed Helpdesk and User/Desktop Support
  • Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions

Dollars and cents doesn’t tell the whole story. ‘We know our customer base appreciates not just the reduction in overal spend for business critical services,’ says Sanjeev Spolia, CEO of Supra ITS, a leading Canadian managed services provider based in Mississauga, Ontario.

‘Customers appreciate that we take responsibility for their technology environment not just today, but to ensure they are in the best shape tomorrow. That can mean simply making sure the latest updates are installed or proposing new technolgies that will serve them better.

Removing Risk

‘A good managed service provider is not just accountable to the task,’ Spolia continues, ‘but removes risk and allows the customer to focus on their strategic business goals rather than chasing the technology game.’

The question of what to do with the money saved? According to Spolia, the money is reinvested into staffing, adding new technologies or used to strengthen marketing programs. ‘We’re fortunate to be in a business that is extremely quantifiable,’ he concludes. ‘We can point to real numbers that can be used to gain specific competitive advantages that best suit a company’s situation at a given time.’

Supra ITS Group of Companies: Supra ITS: supraits.com  | PrinterLogix: www.printerlogix.com  | BackupSilo: www.backupsilo.com

  • August 1, 2016
  • Catagory Managed IT Services

Choosing the right Managed Service Provider 101

The short answer is to say that the good ones deliver managed IT solutions that streamline your business, raise productivity and profits levels, and boost the value of your company to your customers. They key word there – ‘deliver’ – means not just talking the talk, but walking it too.

The ones to avoid have a habit of slowing down your organisation, reducing what should be raised and adding increases where you should see cuts. The problem with such sage advice is that it’s easy to apply in hindsight, and more difficult when you’re searching for a managed services provider.

When choosing an MSP for your company, it’s worthwhile looking out for these key features and qualities.

1. On-hand and upfront

This is a point about service standards and relationships. Most businesses can’t afford downtime, and so when a potential issue with your systems arises, you need it to be addressed before it makes an impact. You need to know that your MSP has all angles covered and, if yours is a 24/7 operation, then backup processes in place to ensure that everything’s working 24/7. You also need to know that you’re working with a managed service provider that genuinely cares about your business. Often, this criteria will favour the small and medium-sezed companies over the large multinationals. To ensure you get the service you need, you need people in your local area, on-hand and accountable to the terms set out in clear Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

2. Technology is still a people business

The most robust IT systems paired with the most sophisticated software packages in the world aren’t going to improve your business processes, practices and profits on their own. It takes people – namely experienced managed IT services professionals – to engage with your key personnel and thoroughly understand your business operation, goals, capabilities and limitations before the right solution can be designed and deployed. Effective two-way communication is what makes this happen, so it’s important that the personalities and corporate cultures click and the communication channels work. The best managed services relationships are long term because they continue to provide long term value after the initial requirement has been delivered.

3. One size fits one

The third and final point relates to #2 above, yet teaches a different lesson. Successful solutions, eventually called best practices, worked for specific companies because they followed guiding principles and practices, but would be customized to the individual needs of the company. When a managed services provider promises to increase productivity by 20% and reduce IT costs by 12% because they did X for company Y, you need to ask what they’re going to change and how they’ll adapt the solution to work for your company – not their portfolio piece. This will reveal whether they’re just cold-selling without research, or whether they’ve shown enough respect for your business to do some research and ask meaningful questions. The IT solution proposed by your managed services partner and the Service Level Agreements outlined in the contract should reflect these differences and associated deliverables.

The bottom line comes down to clarity and understanding. You want to know what kind of managed service provider your business is engaging and what they’re capable of delivering. You need to know that they’re capable of understanding your business, differentiating it from their previous and other clients and create a tailored IT solution that makes adds speed, efficiency and greater overall performance.