Five Tips for Taking Control of Cloud Chaos

Gain Visibility into Apps

It may seem simple, but the first step an organization should take is to understand which apps its employees are actually using. Individual employees often use cloud apps outside of IT’s control, and business units purchase apps without alerting the organization as a whole. It’s necessary to get a handle on which apps are being used across the entire organization.

Cut Down on Cloud Spending

While many organizations initially turn to the cloud for the cost savings it can enable, they often end up wasting huge amounts of money on unused cloud app licenses and outdated contracts with cloud providers. Think of all the licenses held by employees that have left the company, and all the cloud contracts that haven’t been re-negotiated in years – all of that adds up to wasted resources. It’s also important to take the extra step and double-check the accuracy of charges from cloud providers to avoid spending unnecessary money.

Take Control of Cloud Licenses

As the organization delves into its cloud usage, it should identify and eliminate unused and unknown cloud licenses. It should also cancel any instances of multiple contracts with the same cloud vendors (for example, the sales and marketing departments could both inadvertently have contracts with the same provider, such as Salesforce).

The organization should negotiate current cloud contracts to make sure it’s getting the best deal, and make sure to re-negotiate these contracts in the future. In doing so, it’s important to ensure that rates are in accordance with purchase volumes.

Centrally Manage Cloud Usage

Once the organization understands which apps employees are using and where money is being spent, it should create a central portal from which this can all be managed. Central management of cloud assets and expenses will significantly reduce the complexity of managing cloud contracts, and help to eliminate duplicate contracts.

Consider a Third-Party Provider

If the process of managing cloud apps today, and on an ongoing basis, seems like a lot of work, the organization should consider turning to a third-party provider that can provide an objective assessment of cloud usage. This oversight can help the organization realize the best possible value from its cloud investment.


 

The exponential growth of cloud computing has raised concerns about how rapidly enterprises are adopting cloud technologies while ignoring or struggling to monitor and control the associated expenses. As organizations evolve and grow, employees turn to hundreds of cloud computing services without expressed permission from the enterprise. The combination of various business units deploying cloud technology separately from other departments and the misconception that it’s not necessary to involve an enterprise’s IT department in the cloud application adoption process has resulted in misallocated expenses, lost efficiency and poor policy enforcement for enterprises.

A recent eye-opening survey indicated that the average enterprise uses more than 450 cloud apps, and this figure proved to be nine to 10 times greater than the average corporate IT team estimated. Another survey revealed that 30 percent of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps were being used outside of IT’s sphere of control. These results paint a startling image of a chaotic cloud atmosphere, where employees in need of solutions fail to adhere to IT policies or, in many cases, are acting in absence of an IT policy.

Without visibility into the wide variety of cloud apps employees are using every day, organizations face an array of problems– such as potential liabilities, security issues and hidden costs. In this slideshow, Tangoe describes five ways that enterprises can take back control of the cloud chaos.


 

Source: http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/five-tips-for-taking-control-of-cloud-chaos.html?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ITBE_NL_DYE_20141119_STR1L1&dni=193234274&rni=13501729

Five Tips to Avoid Falling Victim to Online Scammers

Money-Off Coupons

If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. In the last 12 months, numerous retailers have admitted to suffering a massive data breach. As a result, compromised customer data can be used against unsuspecting users to lure them into financial traps. For example, let’s say you purchased a Sony PlayStation this year at Target. Soon thereafter, you start receiving emails that suggest you buy games and accessories for your console at a greatly reduced price. Can you trust the message? The sender? While cybercriminals are extremely clever, there are a few things to look out for when deciding if an offer is authentic:

  • Is the sender’s email address different from before?
  • Is the manner in which you are addressed unusual?
  • Does the message contain typing errors or grammatical mistakes?

Tip: Never follow links embedded in a message, especially one that’s not completely ringing true. Instead, type the usual address into the URL bar. If the offers are genuine, the website will be displaying them too.

Search Results

Just as marketing executives spend time and money improving page rank in search engines, so do cyber criminals. In fact, on many occasions, legitimate sites have been compromised and malware inserted to trap unsuspecting visitors. With so many people seeking out the best online deals, canny criminals have undoubtedly set up their traps.

Tip: Be wary of sites that claim to have trawled the web in order to compile a list of the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. While some may be genuine, proceed with caution.

Malware

While these tips are primarily intended to prevent you from falling victim, a previous infection cannot be ruled out. For example, if you have a malicious program already installed on your machine, it could be secretly monitoring your online usage to steal your bank account and credit card information.

Tip: At a minimum, make sure you are using (updated) antivirus software to keep your system clean. Security layers and vigilance are the keys to ensuring you are not the reason the system gets infected this year.

Password Overkill

Some sites prompt users to create a username and password before shopping. But if you use the same username and password on more than one site, cyber criminals may lift your combination and try to access other sites that house credit card information. This is what Dropbox recently experienced when credentials liberated from ‘unrelated services’ were used to hack secondary accounts.

Tip: Make the extra effort to use different passwords for different online accounts, especially for those accounts tied to your financial information.

Fake Purchase or Delivery Receipts

It has become a very popular ploy for malware authors to send what appears to be a purchase receipt to users. These “receipts” are meant to lure recipients into believing someone has made unauthorized purchases on their behalf. Fake delivery receipts can also confuse recipients into believing that something they may have actually ordered online has transit issues. With many people doing a majority of their online shopping during this time of year, this is a perfect time to see these scams in the wild.

Tip: Never click on a link or an attachment from an unsolicited email. Remain vigilant and read all purchase and delivery receipts carefully before clicking on a link or entering personal information.

Summary 

So, how can you mitigate the threat of falling victim to this season’s online scams? Remember that a multi-layered approach to security is important. Use a properly configured firewall, antivirus, email and web-filtering products from a reputable security company.  But above all, exercise common sense and remain vigilant.


Black Friday and Cyber Monday may sound like titles from science fiction novels, but they actually refer to the two busiest shopping days of the year for retailers.

Last year saw record figures for e-tailers against the previous year. While vendors are busy planning ways to push sales even higher in 2014, you can be certain that just as many cyber criminals are plotting to profit from this year’s “season of goodwill.”

It is true, Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer great deals. But, how do we spot the real deal from the scam? In this slideshow, Troy Gill, senior security analytist at AppRiver, provides five tips that will help prevent you from unwittingly parting with your money – and putting it directly into a cyber-crook’s wallet – this holiday season.


Source: http://ct.itbusinessedge.com/r/?id=h106e075c,b7a2da9,b95b487&dni=192556457&rni=13501729&p1=20141119

News analysis: Microsoft throws down the gauntlet

The worst kept secret in the Australian channel came to an end with Microsoft announcing the localisation of its Azure Cloud services, which will now be hosted in Australian datacentres in New South Wales and Victoria.

This should resolve any data sovereignty issues for local businesses, and brings the company to par with Amazon Web Services, which localised last year, and Google Compute, which is expected to do so in 2015.

Microsoft’s executive vice-president for Cloud enterprise, Scott Guthrie, said, at the recent Microsoft TechEd in Sydney, that these three companies are now the dominant providers in the marketplace, marginalising smaller operators, such as IBM, Cisco and VMware’s offerings.

“We think, ultimately, there’s only going to be three big vendors in the world that are going to be able to provide this kind of hyperscale reach: Microsoft, Google and Amazon,” he said.

Gartner infrastructure software team research director, Michael Warrilow, agrees somewhat and believes that Google needs to raise its game. “Gartner’s view is that yes, they are the behemoths in Infrastructure-as-a-Service [IaaS]. Google is kind of doing now what Azure was doing in terms of jumping up the ladder quickly. Google needs to come to Australia. There are some things I know Google will announce; they know they need to get more competitive,” he said.

“The other interesting middle ground is the traditional outsourcers like HP/IBM and the role they’ll play. IBM is here now and HP is expanding. Scott’s right from one perspective, but he’s not painting the whole picture.”

Warrilow said the local Azure launch is a big opportunity for the channel.

“It can be the catalyst for change, but resellers need to be willing to change, otherwise there are new competitors coming along. Kloud, is an example. It is born in the Cloud and offers a range of services around being a broker for medium-sized businesses whether they need Office 365, Azure, so on,” he said.

“The traditional reseller can continue on doing what they’re doing with less margin, or start a new chapter.”

Telsyte’s senior analyst, Rodney Gedda, said it is too early to call any victors in the public Cloud market.

“There’s always going to be change in markets. We saw the quite dramatic shift in mobility; Microsoft [MS] had a decent go in that but lost that war to Apple and Google,” Gedda said.

“You could argue Microsoft was late to the game in the Cloud space so they’re investing heavily in that. Markets will change so I wouldn’t say there’s only going to be three.

“IBM’s in the mix as well. They might be late to the party but they won’t let MS and AWS have the Cloud market to themselves.”

Distribution Central executive chairman, Scott Frew, said the launch of Azure locally will grow the market and be a good thing as long as there are differentiators, but any claims of there only being room for three big providers is absurd.

“That’s like saying there’s only three big distributors in the world, so the rest don’t matter. Of course they matter. Even though they have scale and their pricing will be better, there are customers that need a more personalised service. It’s about differentiating your services.”

“Coming out and saying the big three are going to kill everyone… that’s just short-sighted in a competitive context.”

His other company, iAsset, runs on the Azure platform, while Distribution Central also distributes NetApp through AWS. Frew is mostly platform agnostic, and will run services on whatever suits. “Our position in the Cloud market is that it’s all about the apps. You can bang on about PaaS and IaaS, but if you don’t deliver an application that makes the customer money, or saves them money, then there’s no point dealing with them. Too many people lose sight of that.”

Complementary not competitive

Channel Dynamics co-founder and director, Cam Wayland, agrees, noting that, as the market matures, more and more resellers and service providers are realising that the public Cloud behemoths are complementary to their own offerings, rather than competitive.

“Our research showed 12 months ago that the service providers saw the big public Cloud providers as being a threat to their business. The smarter guys are now realising that they can now use and integrate them,” he said.

“The big three will always be able to do things larger, faster and cheaper than any local offering. “Local service providers are now building a portfolio of offerings that includes the public Cloud, alongside higher price, more complex, more value add, more tailored, more ‘whatever you want’ offerings for their clients.”

One of the key problems when using the major public Cloud providers is their complexity. Just organising and managing workloads, alongside tailoring offerings in terms of security and performance is beyond the reach of most IT managers.

“VARs are really just demystifying and simplifying that process, and making sure the customer isn’t being overcharged. Cloud sprawl is a problem – you have all these services, on a credit card or whatever, but after a while, without proper management, your costs run out of control. That’s where the partner adds value because they have the big picture of the whole thing,” Wayland said.

The key advantage to Azure’s launch locally is its data sovereignty concerns. The new Azure Geo’s sites in New South Wales and Victoria are geographically redundant and fulfil all Australian legal requirements. It brings Microsoft’s total number of geo regions worldwide to 19.

NewLease head of Cloud strategy, Steven Parker, said his company is already moving some of its Azure assets into the new datacentres, and will be licensing Azure through its enterprise agreements. He believes that one of the rapidly disappearing issues is asset ownership in the new Cloud-based world.

“Just like AWS found when they came on shore, a lot of businesses just said ‘what’s our objection now – there isn’t one. Let’s just do it’,” Parker said. “It will drive a lot more people to consider the Cloud as a viable option.”

He also doesn’t believe that a public Cloud oligopoly will become the new norm.

“There’s a natural cycle that happens in the business world, and as oligopolies begin to exist it only creates more opportunities for smaller, more nimble players. It’s the convenient one stop shop versus the local guy offering a specialised service.”

Reduce latency issues

Microsoft also said that it will reduce latency issues. Microsoft will expand its ExpressRoute offering in Australia via its existing global partnership with Equinix and form a new alliance with Telstra. The expansion gives Australian customers and partners the option to create private connections between the Australia Azure Regions and infrastructure located on-premises or in a colocation environment. Microsoft claims that it has thousands of Australian partners, and that more than 70 per cent of them are SMEs.

“There’s a rising tide and all you’ve got to do is make sure you’re in a boat that doesn’t have a hole in the bottom of it, then you should be fine,” Parker said.

Five key advantages to Australian Azure

1. Content distribution: Data can easily be shared between Microsoft’s 19 global geo-locations. For local businesses, ExpressRoute gives Australian customers the option to create private connections between the Australia Azure Regions, and infrastructure located on-premise or in a colocation environment.

2. Testing and R&D: Azure can be used for testing and development, including importing virtual machines and database replication.

3. Compatibility: If you’re using existing Microsoft products, including Azure, it is an easy switch with a consistent user experience. There are no changes required to your applications and infrastructure.

4. Disaster recovery: Having Australian geo-locations means that latency is low, all your data is kept locally, and recovery is quicker and simpler.

5. Data analysis: Microsoft claims Azure is built from the ground up to produce its own reports and data analysis without the need for third party infrastructure and applications, although those options are also available.


Source: http://www.arnnet.com.au/article/559432/news-analysis-microsoft-throws-down-gauntlet/

Powered by Purpose

According to consultant, coach, and speaker Scott Deming, you, your company, your foundation or any organization you belong to have the power to truly affect change, but too often you focus on policies and procedures instead of values and purpose. And without values and purpose, your power and your ability to influence go to waste or even become destructive.

In “Powered by Purpose,” Deming shows you how to identify  your values, declare your purpose, surround yourself with others of like mind, and then communicate that purpose to the world in a manner laced with emotion, relevance, and intrigue — integrating conceptual knowledge with case studies and firsthand experiences.

Deming developed a philosophy from his earliest days as an advertising and marketing executive that was based on three core values his parents taught him: honesty, integrity, and respect for humanity. From that foundation, he realized his purpose — to help businesses – big and small, old and new – create lasting, meaningful brands by focusing on what matters most to them and to those they serve. His love of business — the fact that someone can have an idea and use passion, smarts, and hard work to make a go of it — propels his drive to return you and your organization to the right formula for success: viewing values and purpose as the essentials.

In this excerpt from chapter 2, Demming focuses on identifying your values and how they affect the decisions you make in your personal and professional life every day.


Source: http://ct.itbusinessedge.com/r/?id=hef8d84b,b220caa,b339389&dni=186780842&rni=13501729&p1=20141031

5 Time-Consuming Tasks Small-Business Owners Should Outsource

Overhead can overtake small businesses in a hurry. But too many business owners impede their revenue growth doing everything just to save a few bucks.

Strategic outsourcing solves this dilemma.

Many entrepreneurs reject outsourcing because of the extra cost. However, they fail to calculate the value of opportunities lost because they sank too much time into energy-sapping tasks best left to others. Simply put, they save money but they do not make money.

As an example, I could put together my own PowerPoint presentations if I chose to do so. But I would spend twice as long as as an extremely proficient designer, and in the end, it would look half as good.

If I did it myself, I might save $50 in outsourcing fees. But it would cost me two hours of my workweek, two hours I could spend figuring out how to raise 10, 20 or even 100 times that amount in revenue.

So in the spirit of creating more time in your day to grow your business, here are five key outsourcing opportunities for small businesspeople:

1. Accounting

This may seem obvious, but it is too critical to leave off the list. Not only is accounting time consuming, it is also more and more of a specialty trade (especially in highly regulated states such as California). Accountants know the rules and can keep you out of trouble. They are highly efficient because they do this stuff every day.

Rule number one: Find a good bookkeeper for day-to-day accounting, a great payroll company to handle paychecks and withholdings and an even better CPA for tax accounting.

2. Banking

Separate from the accounting function is your relationship with an actual human being at your local bank. Most banks today have small-business specialists who can help you with cash flow, loans, grants, lines of credit and more. You need money to run a business. Your small business banker can help.

3. Artwork

This includes website art, logos, letterhead, etc. Everyone thinks they can do their own design work, and they can, but very few can do it well. You can find incredibly talented designers on eLance.com who can handle all of your artwork needs for a very small amount. I had an entire PowerPoint deck built for a major presentation. It cost me $35 and it was stellar.

4. Social media

I am all for reaching out on Facebook and Twitter, but doing so takes time. Trust me, there is a college kid in a marketing class out there that would love some part-time work strategically posting, responding to posts and articles, finding connected people to link to, etc. Don’t let your inner control freak get in the way — outsource this crucial element.

5. Editing

If your business requires a great deal of written material, find someone who specializes in word crafting and editing. Spend your time coming up with great content. Leave it to someone else to pore over your documents and ensure accuracy. A second set of skilled eyes will catch and improve things that you will miss.

Do what you do best and outsource the rest.


 

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238185