23Dec

The 2020 Guide to Small Business Cloud Migration

3Qube Consulting IT Services in Houston.When your small business is preparing for a 2020 cloud migration, start with the premise that savings, efficiency, and adaptability aren’t attainable without proper planning. The foundation of the  migration process is about how best to navigate changes to how people, processes and technology work within your small business. That’s why the steps to a smooth cloud migration hold the key to understanding the deeper challenges of cloud migration.

Proper Migration Planning and Execution

This crucial planning process starts with having a detailed understanding of where you are now, which will determine where you want to go. That means understanding your infrastructure costs today to calculate and compare the costs of operation in the cloud tomorrow. That should start with an audit to give you a solid understanding of the network, storage and database capacity you need to run the applications you want to migrate to the cloud.

Cloud providers have simplified pricing structures so they can be more easily understood. Each of the major providers makes cloud cost calculators available to help in this process:

When it comes to evaluating which workloads are suitable for moving off-premises you must assess them based on the criteria of speed, sensitivity and scale. If an application that you rely on is changing fast, it may be a good candidate for cloud migration since the costs of keeping up with those changes can be lower through software as a service (SaaS).

2020 Cloud Migration Planning

Many small businesses get in over their head with unseen costs, time delays and downtime when they don’t start with less sensitive workload cloud migrations. It may be best to start with small-scale applications that will need to grow quickly. 3Qube Consulting IT Services in Houston Cloud consulting services give you the chance to control the entire process and adjust as you go without hurting the business in big ways.

The idea is to identify and carefully plan the migration process needs for those applications requiring low latency/high bandwidth and extreme interdependence with other workloads, applications and databases. Determining whether cloud migration targets can be part of a shallow migration (lift and shift) hybrid (some aspects in the cloud and some remain onsite or an all-in approach are highly dependent on business needs, timetables budgets. Having the proper strategy is crucial to regulating costs, identifying process challenges and meeting KPI outcomes.

 There are also fees attached to the migration process that you must understand and calculate before starting the process including:

  • Fees associated with transferring data to the provider’s systems
  • Potential bandwidth needs to accommodate cloud workload and application access
  • Costs associated with running and synchronizing on-premise and cloud data for system checks before cutover

Migration Support Benefits

Even when it seems like a cloud migration is very basic, your business may lack the necessary people and expertise to execute it on your own. By enlisting the support of an experienced provider of cloud migration services you gain access to strategic approach mapping, cloud architecture development and the expertise needed for the actual migration and post migration process. This support brings the following benefits:

  • Experience and knowledge from migrations across numerous businesses and sectors
  • The ability to quickly identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Support for determining what workloads will bring the biggest benefit from cloud migration Identifying any additional migration costs
  •  Putting tangible and intangible benefits into business terms that make sense for you

This can range from growth potential and the ability to deal with seasonal business spikes through cloud auto scaling measures and bandwidth planning needs. To remain competitive, small businesses will need to integrate cloud computing into their organizational and IT structures in 2020. One thing that is certain is that your business needs will change over the course of the coming years.

Cloud SaaS providers like Microsoft Office 365 are responding to those needs with new capabilities such as integrated artificial intelligence (AI). While this opens even more possibilities for your small business, you’ll likely benefit from skilled and experienced support to make 2020 cloud migration cost effective, efficient and beneficial.

Need help with cloud migration for your small business? Reach out to our team at 3Qube Consulting IT Services in Houston today for more information!

19Dec

5 Cybersecurity Risks Business Need to Consider for 2020

Although cyberthreats carry over and intensify every year, there are always new and evolving risks businesses must be prepared to repel. Many threats will be rooted in the most common cybersecurity challenges all businesses face with new branches designed to exploit operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) convergence ,IT Services in Houston. The latest 2020 cybersecurity risks are a blend of next generation and virtually new threats so here are 5 risks you need to consider in the new year.

1. Evolving Cloud Security Risks

Although SMBs are at different points in the journey, most have begun the move to the cloud through software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings that have increased access, versatility and management simplicity for their IT teams and workforce. But every advance can bring challenges with security as organizations misinterpret the shared responsibility model between cloud providers and businesses. This leads to businesses overlooking gaps in the security approach to their cloud infrastructure.

Office 365 instances are an example where many organizations are unprepared to address the changing threat landscape that attackers see as the gateway to the business’s most sensitive data. This has given rise to IP theft, data leakage, credential cracking, and O365-specific attacks.

The challenge is more than an offshoot of the lack of clarity regarding the shared security model between cloud providers and businesses.

A recent Barracuda Networks report showed 40 percent of IT organizations aren’t doing enough to protect Office 365 data, which was detailed in a Dark Reading article. These challenges will continue to evolve in 2020 and beyond with emerging O365 phishing and malware attacks that are the next generation of attacks like KnockKnock.

2. An Evolving Phishing Landscape

While phishing and whaling threats have been around for some time, attackers are constantly evolving their methods of attack. A cybersecurity risk that will surely grow in 2020 and beyond is known as voicemail phishing schemes. Often considered an offshoot of AI-driven deep fakes, these business email compromise (BEC) attacks occur via voicemail phishing scams. They are prevalent with business email systems where fake audio files are used to prompt a user to give up their passwords to retrieve what is in reality a fake voicemail message.

A recent McAfee report shows how these combination of phishing and whaling scams targeted organizations from many industries like finance, IT, retail, insurance, manufacturing, healthcare and others. A wide range of employees were targeted, from middle management to executive level staff.

There are also evolving phishing threats via SMS (smishing) and over the phone (vishing). While 2-factor and multi-factor authentication can provide an effective bulwark against these voicemail phishing scams, far too many businesses have yet to implement effective identity management across cloud services.

 3. Mobile Malware

As BYOD and mobility have become ubiquitous across SMBs mobile attacks have begun to evolve with 2020 cybersecurity risks now growing among the countless devices connected to the network. The potential for any mobile device accessing the network without being properly secured is a potential attack vector. Cyberattacks are poised to take advantage of this and will continue to evolve different means to do so in 2020 through malware. 

4. Reruns of Old CVEs

January 2020 saw the end of life for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 and many businesses are still using devices with this operating system. This will result in many new vulnerabilities which can only be overcome through patching or replacement of the OS.

These make for an easy asset attack vector for threat actors to be able to exploit old vulnerabilities and new threats that take advantage of a lack of patching. The major concern for businesses using this OS is many will find the cost of replacement difficult. Others will be dealing with small IT teams without enough time to undertake such a complex project.

5. Internet of Things (IoT) Threats

Businesses of all sizes are incorporating more IoT devise for monitoring tracking and collaboration just to name three areas. But IoT is still in the evolutionary stage so many devices are still not designed with security in mind. A recent report revealed a 55% hike in the number of IoT threats from 2018.

This will become a growing problem in 2020 and beyond as these devices are added to the business network. Every device connected to the network poses a potential vulnerability that bad actors will seek to exploit and gain a stronger foothold and access within the business.

As the year progresses, businesses will have to adapt to evolving forms of cyber attacks while preparing to defend new attack vectors that come with emerging technology. With endpoints constantly growing beyond the edge of the network, 2020 cybersecurity risks will require holistic security solutions that are innovative, resilient and adaptable. for more detail visitsIT Services in Houston

10Dec

6 Qualities to Look for in a Project Leadership Partner

While every small business understands they must keep up with information technology to stay competitive in the digital age, how best to do that can be more elusive. While project management best practices are the foundation of technology implementation success, few small businesses have the in-house IT, IT Services in Houston and project leadership expertise. In fact, only 58 percent of organizations fully understand the value of project management according to the latest Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Survey.

Your small business is focused on business relevance and return on investment (ROI) of information technology projects. While you may be considering outside expert IT project support, it’s all about understanding what to look for in a partner. Here are six qualities to look for in a project leadership partner as you begin your journey.

1. A Focus on ROI 

One of the most important qualities to look for in a project leadership partnership is a focus on ROI. That translates to an ability to quickly assess the current state of your business technology and how you use it. This approach enables your partner to determine what technology upgrades, management, or monitoring would bring the biggest operational and bottom-line return.

2. Strong Technology Provider Relationships

While some manufacturers like Microsoft are very important across nearly all small businesses, the right partner takes a generally agnostic view of technology manufacturers. They are then in the best position to review, vet, and choose the best solutions to solve real-world business problems in a cost-effective way.

The right partner will also develop strong technology provider relationships across all product and system categories geared to the needs of businesses like yours. They base this on deep experience across countless successful projects and business needs.

3. Experience, Certifications, and On-going Training

It’s a given that any partner you consider would have deep experience in common systems and technology. But they should also be highly experienced with the latest technologies and have the certifications to back it up.

They show this by bringing a mix of IT specialists and generalists that are cross trained in different systems, platforms, hardware and software. You want to make sure your partner brings the business-critical competencies based on your IT infrastructure today and what you will need tomorrow.

4. Strong IT Strategy Approach 

Regardless of the size of your business, every system and piece of hardware and software must be the most efficient that it can be. It must also fit into a holistic technology approach focused on business outcomes and processes. The right partner can make these assessments because they are driven by a focus on IT strategy development. This ensures they will integrate any new technologies at the right time and in the right way to fulfill the present and future needs of the business. 

5. Data Security Expertise

Every small business must have strong data security in the age of growing breaches and cyber threats. This need encompasses every technology you use and every part of your business. The right partner should make security a part of every decision they make in conjunction with your business.

They show this by bringing data security expertise and the ability to craft a security plan to fit your needs and your budget. The right approach should encompass everything from regulatory compliance, and hosted backup to patch management, hardware/software life cycle and emerging best practices for cloud and network security.

6. Change Management Expertise 

Any IT Services in Houston implementation or project will mean changes to how people, processes, and technology interact to fulfill business needs. The right project leadership partner understands how to avoid change management challenges. This ultimately comes down to knowing how to work with leadership and the workforce across departments and disciplines. The result is an ability to ensure a smooth transition to new and potentially different processes or technologies.

 To accomplish this, they will provide training and education. They also understand that your workforce is the best source for knowing the most about what needs to be done and the source of process pain points. The right partner will start each project by getting input from the staff to make them part of the process of change and get their buy-in. This will help to shape everything from technology maintenance and upgrades to new implementations today and tomorrow. 

This is only the beginning of what the ideal project leadership partner brings to the table for your small business. The goal is to start with these six qualities as the foundation of what to look for in terms of project leadership services. They will naturally lead you to other important qualities in a partner that best positions every project for success as the business grows and changes. For more info Visit 3Qube Consultancy IT Services in Houston

02Dec

Everything You Need to Know About Identity Management

Identity management is at the heart of every business’s ability to be productive and secure in the digital age where data breaches are escalating an evolving. Almost two-thirds of organizations believe they’ve had a breach due to employee access according to the Beyond Trust 2019 Privileged Access Threat Report.For more visit IT Services in Houston

This shows the importance of identity access management (IAM) for users across business assets like applications databases, communication and collaboration tools, the network and cloud assets. This includes even third-party vendors and every employee from the moment of onboarding through permission changes in role needs to when they leave the company.

IAM systems give administrators the ability to change user roles and permissions as needed while enforcing policies going forward. This includes the ability to simplify reporting and compliance auditing for any government regulations.

The tools and software supporting identity management must be flexible and robust to meet complex access needs for network systems, applications and the cloud. This can range from  Microsoft SharePoint and the wireless network to Office 365, ERP and CRM systems. Administrators need a simple, flexible, and scalable way to manage different user access privileges including:

  • On-site and branch office employees
  • Third party, off-site contractors
  • Hybrid compute environments (on-premise computing, software as a service (SaaS) applications and BYOD users)

 The Importance of Identity Management

Lost or stolen passwords can provide bad actors with the means to gain access to the network and data. Identity management is the first line of defense against cyberattacks from ransomware, hacking, phishing schemes, and other malware attacks.

Even small businesses struggle with providing access to only the systems that individual users need to do their jobs. That’s why IAM systems must accommodate consistent access rules and polices across an organization while enabling administrators to assign specific access permissions for each employee. By having central management capabilities, administrators have transparent control and flexibility over identity management.

Regulatory compliance

Nearly every small business has regulatory compliance needs that they must meet for personally identifiable information (PII) data of its customers. That can translate to electronic personal health information (ePHI) or payment card industry compliance (PCI).

Identity Management Synchronization

Identity management is one of several common cybersecurity challenges for small businesses and enterprises. Success in this area requires forethought and collaboration across human resources, IT, security and other departments. 

Identity information often comes from multiple repositories, such as Microsoft Active Directory (AD). Microsoft developed AD as a user-identity directory service for Windows domain networks, so it requires a cohesive configuration and management strategy.

An identity management system must be able to synchronize the user identity information across a variety of systems and applications while providing administrators with a single source of truth. But not all users need or should have the same access, which has given rise to different methods and tools for identity management.

Identity Management Methods

There are several methods for identity management that are both necessary and prevalent to aces security and operation. These are just a few of the most important methods.

Risk-based authentication

This system analyzes each login by looking at the device, location, and network origin and applies different levels of strictness based on the current risk profile. The higher the risk, the more restrictive the authentication process becomes for a user.For more visit IT Services in Houston

Context-aware network access control

This policy-based method looks at the current context of a user’s access request. That may mean blocking user access requests that come from an IP address that hasn’t been identified and authorized as safe (whitelisted).For more visit IT Services in Houston

Federated identity management

Federated identity management lets you share digital IDs with trusted partners. It’s an authentication-sharing mechanism that allows users to employ the same username, password or other ID to gain access to more than one network.For more visit IT Services in Houston

Identity Management Tools

An identity access management system is often comprised of one or more tools that fulfill their function via software or are code-based protocols that enable functionality.

Single Sign-On (SSO)

SSO enables users to carry over their identity authentication status from one network, website or app to another using the same access credentials.

Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)

This open standards-based protocol is used for managing and accessing a distributed directory service, such as Microsoft Active Directory.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

 MFA goes beyond usernames and passwords to add additional authentication levels. More that 70 percent of businesses today are using as many as four authentication methods according to the Okta 2019 Business at Work Report.

Conclusion

Identity management requires a management strategy to decide on the right tools, processes and rules, which can be a time consuming and complex process. Many small businesses lack the IT support or the security expertise to create, implement and test that strategy to ensure it’s truly secure. 

The small IT budgets for many businesses requires identity management solutions and support that are cost effective but still provide the latest tools, approaches and expertise. By working with the right identity management partner, small businesses can create and implement scalable, flexible and comprehensive IAM strategies. This helps them to keep systems, applications, and data safe while providing the user access needed for optimum business productivity.For more visit IT Services in Houston