5 Hidden Costs of Cloud Backup

Backup and disaster recovery are typically cited among the top use cases for cloud computing. Companies are increasingly realizing that cloud-based backup is more efficient, more reliable, easier to use and less error prone than traditional methods such as tape or other rotational media, not to mention it enables extremely effective disaster recovery. In 2015, we saw a major upswing in cloud adoption for storing backup copies. In 2016, expect to see cloud backup and disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) options become the norm for new backup deployments at organizations of all sizes.

Most companies can easily lower OPEX and CAPEX with cloud backup. But not all cloud backup options are the same, and a true cost comparison entails evaluating more than just each offering’s top line cost per GB. In this slideshow, cloud-recovery leader Unitrends details five “hidden” charges that companies must consider when researching the best and most cost-effective cloud backup solution for their business.

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Cloud Backup’s Hidden Charges

Click through for five “hidden” charges that companies must consider when researching the best and most cost-effective cloud backup solution for their business, as identified by Unitrends.

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Compounding Storage Needs

Hidden Cost No. 1: Compounding Storage Needs

Retaining backup copies is now a necessity for many companies for a variety of reasons, from protection against human error, natural disasters and system failures, to compliance with regulatory or policy requirements.

The storage required to retain multiple copies of your backups can be substantially larger than the original source data. A common strategy for keeping data for long-term retention is the grandfather-father-son (GFS) backup scheme, which results in a lot of backup copies. In this scheme, a set of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly backups are retained using a first-in-first-out (FIFO) pattern. Even if only the data that is changing daily is stored in the cloud and the backups are being compressed, the amount of cloud storage used can add up over time.

Consequently, it matters a great deal where the gigabytes (GBs) and terabytes (TBs) you are purchasing reside. Most cloud storage and backup solutions charge for every GB of storage used in the cloud. So, as your backups grow and consume more cloud storage, so does your bill. But there are cloud backup solutions that only charge for the amount of data protected on the source side. Evaluate each cloud backup solution to determine whether you’ll be paying for protected data or raw cloud storage.

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Retrieval Fees

Hidden Cost No. 2: Retrieval Fees

Many of the low-cost hyperscale cloud storage solutions are designed as cold storage, meaning they are intended for storing data that does not need to be frequently accessed. These cold storage solutions charge a retrieval fee to users who need to access their data. Though these fees are typically 1 cent per GB, they can quickly add up if you need to access your data frequently throughout the year.

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Network Egress Fees

Hidden Cost No. 3: Network Egress Fees

All clouds allow you to insert your data for free (network ingress). However, many clouds charge network fees to move your data out of the cloud to another location or to the Internet (network egress). These network egress fees vary greatly by cloud provider and depend on the amount of data moved in a month as well as the geography where the data resides, though they tend to range between 5 and 23 cents per GB.

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Getting Data Into and Out of the Cloud

Hidden Cost No. 4: Getting Data Into and Out of the Cloud

Getting your data into and out of the cloud has both hard costs and soft costs beyond network egress fees. The impact of those costs depends on which option you use to move your data – a WAN connection or physical seeding. The most obvious method to move data to and from the cloud is to send it over a WAN connection. However, this may not be ideal for moving large amounts of data because, even with a high-speed Internet connection, transferring multiple TBs of data can take a substantial amount of time.

Physical seeding is an alternative method to get an initial set of data into the cloud without having to wait days or weeks to transfer many TBs. Physical seeding uses physical disks and overnight shipping to quickly create an initial dataset in the cloud. Media is sent to the cloud provider to “seed” the initial full set of data and avoid the WAN challenge.

Physical seeding can greatly speed up the cloud backup initialization process, reducing setup time from weeks to a single day, even for hundreds of TBs. However, not all vendors offer a seeding option and almost all charge a nominal fee for it.

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Getting Data Into and Out of the Cloud

Hidden Cost No. 4: Getting Data Into and Out of the Cloud (Continued)

Even more important than seeding your data to get started is the requirement for “reverse seeding,” or a data shipment service level agreement (SLA), to get data back within 24 hours in the event of a disaster. This works the same as seeding but in reverse. If you have a disaster and lose all or a large amount of your data, the cloud vendor places your data onto disks or a new backup appliance and ships the data to you.

Whether an organization can obtain reverse seeding or not can be the difference between achieving or missing recovery time objectives (RTOs). With reverse seeding, you avoid the challenge of sending large amounts of data over a WAN, and downtime can be minimized from weeks to hours.

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Cost of Not Having a Solid SLA

Hidden Cost No. 5: The Price of Not Having Rock Solid SLAs

Many clouds have soft SLAs. It pays to read the fine print and determine how the cloud you are relying on for mission-critical backup and recovery will perform when it matters most. Consider the following questions when evaluating cloud providers:

  • What does the cloud provider guarantee for recovery? Does the provider guarantee a specific recovery time?
  • What is the guarantee for uptime?
  • If you have concerns about data sovereignty, does the provider validate that your data will stay in the geography that you choose?
  • What are the SLAs for response time for service? Is there a person to answer the phone or is it email/chat only?
  • Are there multiple vendors involved? Does that affect the SLAs?

SLAs are particularly important for backup and recovery. You need to make sure that you have a supplier who will be there with you when you have a disaster or emergency. Without such SLAs in place, you may find that you have just purchased cheap offsite storage rather than a true backup and recovery partner.

 

Reference: http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/five-hidden-costs-of-cloud-backup.html

How to Get Control of Your Email Inbox

Email has been likened to zombies: The more you delete (or kill), the more come to get you. Just about every professional today struggles to stay on top of email. According to a McKinsey study, U.S. employees spend 28 percent of their workweek on email, and research from the University of California, Irvine indicates that email overload can elevate stress levels and reduce focus. Add in the chaos of the modern inbox and important messages can easily get lost in the shuffle — only 6 to 7 percent of emails actually receive a response.

Email is an integral part of working, but for far too many workers, it hurts rather than helps their productivity. They spend so much time communicating that it is difficult to get into a flow and get actual work done. Keeping email overload at bay and optimizing your inbox requires honing specific skills and developing a strategy so you control your email, rather than letting it control you.

In the following slideshow, SaneBox has identified six tips for overcoming email overload, achieving inbox zero, and boosting your productivity.

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Managing Your Inbox

Click through for six tips for overcoming email overload, achieving inbox zero, and boosting your productivity, as identified by SaneBox.

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Scan-Block-Ask

The most efficient emailers use the three-step Scan-Block-Ask system.

Step 1: Scan. Scan your inbox for emails with urgent and important items, and take care of them first thing in the morning. Then, close your email and work on your top priorities.

Step 2: Block. Block 30 to 60 minutes later in the day to process your non-urgent and less important emails. Having a set time in your calendar will help you stay focused on your tasks and ensures that you won’t miss or forget about emails.

Step 3: Ask. Ask yourself if clearing your Inbox is the best use of time right now. Do this every time you are in your email and every time you think about opening your email. If the answer is no, wait until the next block of time that you scheduled for email.

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Triage Your Inbox

When “checking email” is your main focus, you’re letting other people dictate your priorities. Stop hitting refresh repeatedly in your inbox, and instead save hours of time (and sanity) with email triage. Email triage is a strategy for processing email in a fraction of the time. First, you want to divide emails into three camps.

For emails that are a lost cause, delete or archive them, because they are not the best use of your time. If you can tell by the subject line and sender that an email is not important, don’t even take the time to open it. If you know that you will never need to reference the email in the future, delete it. If you aren’t sure or know you will need it, archive it. Whenever possible, process these messages in bulk.

For emails that can be quickly addressed with the likelihood of positive outcome, defer, delegate or respond. Defer emails that are not urgent until later by moving them out of your inbox until you are ready to deal with them. Delegate the email or task with a simple forward if someone on your team can deal with it.

Finally, for emails that require time and energy for a positive outcome to occur, move them into a separate folder, star it, and then work out of your star folder. Or you can keep the “to do” emails in your inbox. The key is to ensure all the top priority messages are in one place.

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Email Notifications

Email notifications are the no. 1 productivity killer. Studies have shown that every time we are interrupted by events like an email notification, it takes us 90 seconds to recover and return to the task at hand. Considering that the average person manages over 100 emails per day, this really adds up. What’s more, 40 percent of the time when we are interrupted, we fail to complete the interrupted task.

When you let every email that arrives in your inbox interrupt you, you destroy your productivity, which is why setting up dedicated blocks of time to check emails is key. To regain and maintain your focus, turn off notifications everywhere you receive email, including on your smartphone, tablet and computer. If you’re really ready to take it to the next level, remove the email app from your phone entirely.

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Treat Your Inbox Right

Treating your inbox right entails a couple of different things. To start, properly filter your bacn — the legitimate emails like newsletters and social media alerts that you have subscribed to and may be interested in, but which should not interrupt your day. It’s best to make sure these messages never set foot in your inbox by filtering them out. At minimum, be sure to process these messages in bulk so they don’t waste your time or linger in your inbox.

Secondly, don’t always email. Be vigilant about deciding which email threads are productive and which are not. Sometimes a phone conversation might be better, some recipients should be removed from a thread, or a new thread is needed altogether.

Third, don’t use your inbox as an archive. It’s the equivalent of stuffing your snail mail back into your mailbox after reading it and is terrible for your productivity. Instead, use your email’s search function to find messages and create folders for categories you will want to reference in the future.

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The Best Follow-Up Reminders

For many of us, it is hard to keep track of all the emails being sent from our inbox. Often, we forget or people never respond — things just fall through the cracks. One of the best hacks for this challenge is to stop waiting on responses, and instead systematize using reminders. Services to help you do this include Yesware and its reminder feature, which alerts you to follow up and focus on emails that haven’t been responded to; Boomerang for Gmail, an extension that removes messages from your inbox until you need them; and SaneBox’s SaneReminders, which notifies you when an email you sent was not responded to by a certain time. It’s also a great way to send a reminder to your future self rather than creating a calendar event that has little context.

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Snooze Emails Until You Are Ready

What do you do with an email that you do need to act on, but not right now? If you’re like most people, you probably leave that message in your inbox, possibly even marking it as unread. This causes you to look at it (i.e., spend time and focus on it) over and over. A much better way is to move it out of your inbox.

If you ever receive an email that isn’t actionable at that specific time, get it out of your inbox. Remember, triage. We’re talking an itinerary for a trip months from now, directions to your friend’s wedding next year, or an email you want to follow up on tomorrow, but not today. These messages are irrelevant until the time you need them, at which point they become incredibly important, so snooze them.

 

Reference: http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/how-to-get-control-of-your-email-inbox.html

4 Enterprise Technology Trends to Be Mindful of in 2016

With 2015 practically in the rearview mirror, it’s time to gear up for 2016 and the different business verticals that you’ll need to fulfill as the year progresses.

To that end, once you’ve had a celebratory glass of champagne to commemorate all the quality work you’ve completed within the past year, it’ll be in your best interest to look towards some of the most pressing enterprise technology trends set to heat up in 2016. Here are four hot trends Himanshu Sareen, CEO at Icreon Tech, has identified for the coming year.

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Click through for the enterprise tech trends that will be heating up in 2016, as identified by Himanshu Sareen, CEO at Icreon Tech.

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Machine Learning

Machine learning comes to the fore.

With Amazon releasing its machine learning (ML) service earlier this year (and with other companies rushing in to take advantage of the machine learning API landscape) ML technology is set to explode in 2016.

Why? Just as all of the major cloud companies (Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, etc.) provide analytics as a service, so do these companies provide machine learning APIs in the cloud. These APIs allow everyday developers (read: developers without much background in machine-learning technologies) to “build smart, data-driven applications that can not only analyze what’s happening in real-time or what happened in the past, but also predict what’s going to happen in the future.”

The end result of the ‘Rise of Machine Learning’ will mean that companies will have access to better, faster, and more comprehensive data that — when combined with IoT capabilities — will lead to everything from better security applications to more accurate systems for medical diagnoses.

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Adaptive Security Advancements

It’s already common knowledge that many CIOs — whether in the tech space or otherwise — list security as their top priority. And it’s no wonder when you consider that large companies like Sony and Staples have been hit by major cyber attacks within the last two years.

To that end, Gartner predicts that adaptive security will be a big trend in 2016. As the Internet of Things (IoT) gains shape more companies will acquire predictive security tools that allow them to take a more proactive approach when it comes to safeguarding their end-to-end business processes.

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New Media Technologies

New media technologies will make or break inbound marketing programs.

You might have heard about this little thing called content marketing — of course you have, and a big reason why is because it’s an effective (and typically cheaper) method of marketing that has sort of become the rival to more traditional marketing tactics. What you may or may not know, though, is that creating a content marketing department is essentially the same as creating a media brand — when done the right way at least.

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New Media Technologies

Being that the success or failure of any type of marketing program depends on being able to retrieve and implement relevant data, it makes sense then that new media technologies spending is set to really help grow (or break) inbound marketing programs across the board in 2016. Take for example Marriott, which has now adopted a full-blown media company to help grow its business.

With content marketing technology startups such as Contently, Percolate, and others drawing in big-time investment (Contently has raised over $12M in funding through five rounds and Percolate has raised close to $75M through four rounds) and with total investment in content marketing technology (through Sept 2015) in the billions already, 2016 looks to be a big year in terms of companies adopting more advanced media strategies to help promote their businesses, and grow their bottom lines.

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Internet of Things

Competition in the IoT space gets fierce.

There really hasn’t been a sexier topic of discussion and debate in 2015 than the Internet of Things. Where’s it going, what’s it doing, and what has it already done for enterprises/the general public?

Here’s a snapshot of what we already know:

Gartner predicts that around 6.4 billion “things” will be connected to the Internet by 2016 (an estimate that’s up 30 percent from 2015) and that projection grows to 20.8 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of endpoints to connect and make secure, and with adoption happening this quickly, one thing that’s for certain is that we’re all hurtling extremely quickly towards the “age of IoT.”

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Internet of Things

With Amazon Web Services (AWS) continuing to be the current gold standard of data management platforms — and with data management being a key cog in the development of the IoT’s commercial and industrial viability — there is sure to be plenty of competition in not only the manufacturing of smart devices but in shoring up all those endpoints.

We’ve simply never seen anything within the enterprise space grow to scale as quickly as the IoT has thus far. And it’s because of the lightning pace of adoption that security and implementation will become essential to the further success of how we integrate the IoT into our daily business lives. Whether that comes in better analytic capacities, industrial advances (such as making machines working more efficiently), or in wearable technology that lets us know the state of our personal health — the race to see how far we can take the IoT in 2016 has already begun.

 

Reference: http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/four-enterprise-technology-trends-to-be-mindful-of-in-2016.html

Today’s Multitasking Addiction Is Killing Productivity

The chaos of the modern workday creates constant pressure to multitask. We respond to emails during meetings, hold conference calls while driving, and reply to a constant inbound stream of messages while dealing with our workload. From email and chat notifications to the siren song of social media, there is always somewhere else for our minds to wander.

At first glance, this might seem like a good thing. Multitasking makes it possible to kill two birds with one stone, right? You discuss marketing strategy and catch up on your email at the same time. However, research now shows that multitasking is a serious drain on productivity. Rather than doing two things at once, it causes us to do two things badly, and perhaps create more work for ourselves down the road.

In today’s fast-moving, always-on office environment, employees and managers alike have to understand the high cost of multitasking. Shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time. That is a massive sum, and one that can’t be ignored. In this slideshow, Andrew Filev, CEO of Wrike, delves deeper into the havoc multitasking can wreak on productivity and what you can do about it.

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The High Cost of Multitasking

Click through for more on how multitasking wreaks havoc on productivity and what you can do to avoid the trap, as identified by Andrew Filev, CEO of Wrike.

 

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Our Multitasking Addiction

According to Wrike’s Work Management Report 2015, the number-one productivity killer is “working on too many things at the same time.” Professionals today are addicted to multitasking, and it is hurting us.

To start, it is easier to multitask than ever before. We can constantly keep our email open on our desktop, browse multiple tabs, and work on our phones. The proliferation of devices creates a constant pressure to multitask, but just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. In addition, employers are still stuck on the idea that multitasking is a virtue, which is why so many job descriptions still ask for “good multitasking skills.” Collectively, all these forces compel us to work on too many things at the same time.

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Mobile Devices and Social Media

Mobile devices and social media have made us impatient and easily bored 

Then there are the other pressures — for instant gratification and constant stimulation. The rise of mobile devices has also given rise to services like Uber, which enable us to get things done with just a few taps. The result of this rapid communicating — whether it’s texting a friend or calling a cab — has conditioned people to be inpatient and deal with things in-the-moment.

In addition, mobile devices and social media have created an environment where new things are constantly happening, even though they are often not important. A second of downtime (waiting in line, listening to a slow talker) has become time to fill.

This chronic impatience and boredom makes it more difficult for us to unplug and focus on one thing. As a result, no task gets our full and undivided attention, which means it also doesn’t garner the best of our abilities.

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Multitaskers Are Not Created Equally

The experience of multitasking is not the same for all people, and understanding your relationship with multitasking can be helpful in your quest to overcome it.

According to the American Psychological Association, there are four common types of multitaskers:

  • You’re approach-oriented or reward-focused. Your brain says “If I do more work at once, I can complete more work at once.” It makes sense, but doesn’t work.
  • You’re a high-sensation seeker. These are people who use multitasking to fight boredom (or because of boredom). By shifting focus periodically, you keep your mind engaged with a new task.
  • You’re convinced you’re part of the 2 percent of people who can multitask effectively. It’s normal for us to think we’re better at multitasking than we are. Be cognizant of your actual productivity, and see if you’re really as good as you think.
  • You have trouble focusing. You may not be multitasking intentionally. Use technology as a tool for focus, rather than distraction. Mute your notifications, minimize your tabs, and avoid your inbox while focusing on work.

Most people are not proficient multitaskers (otherwise known as supertaskers). You are either one of the 2 percent or you’re not — there’s no gray area in between.

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Productivity Drain

Switching between tasks drains 40 percent of our productive time.

A lot of productivity drain happens during the actual switch between tasks. As previously mentioned, switching sucks up 40 percent of our productive time, whether it’s changing apps, trying to catch up to where you left off, or getting distracted during the change.

To keep switching at bay, set a goal for each day. When a new task pops up, ask yourself, “Is this important for meeting today’s goal?” If not, it’s probably not something you urgently need to shift your focus toward.

Another good strategy to mitigate the effects of multitasking is to plan your day around similar tasks. For example, if you’re an HR pro, you may work on product-related tasks in the morning, legal-related tasks in the early afternoon, and recruiting a little later. That way, if you multitask slightly within those categories, your brain isn’t completely shifting topics.

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Staying On-Task

How to stay focused and on-task 

Avoiding the impulse to multitask can be difficult. Many of us today are engaged in collaborative work and we don’t want to let down our teams. For workers with many demands on their time and attention, setting goals and planning may not be enough to minimize distractions. Sometimes, more drastic measures are required.

If you can’t mute everything, funnel your inbound alerts into a single stream where you can prioritize some and reject others. You can also use apps to help you bundle and channel the noise. A little bit of time spent adjusting notification settings on the worst offenders (e.g., instant messaging) is a worthwhile endeavor. Set aside a few minutes at the top of an hour or every 90 minutes when you check in to see if anything needs immediate attention. For those moments when you need to get into the flow, enforce solitude by silencing notifications entirely.

 

Reference: http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/todays-multitasking-addiction-is-killing-productivity-07.html