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XChange of Ideas – Trends with Benefits

XChange Events

This XChange of Ideas shares trends that can boost your business’ productivity.

We recently spent three packed days at the XChange 2022 Conference. While we attend to improve our service offerings and business, many of the insights will benefit your business as well.

1 Industry Consolidation Awareness 

As with most maturing, dynamic industries, consolidation of vendors is not unusual in technology. Bringing together complimentary technologies and solutions can create synergy and economies of scale.  Currently, we are seeing something a bit different.  Companies that provide the systems we use to run our business are acquiring products and services that we offer to our customers.  By offering solutions we sell, and the solutions we use, our vendors are hoping to provide us with better integration and efficiencies.

The risk, however, is that service providers will focus, or limit, their options to match the “single vendor” efficiency. While you, as the customer, may benefit from the efficiency, these benefits will be fleeting if the solutions do not meet your needs.

We, at Cumulus Global, will continue to offer multiple solutions for nearly all of the services we offer. We commit to this strategy because efficient mediocrity serves nobody well.

2 VDI is Better than O.K.

Acceptance and use of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and remote desktop services is on the rise. Beyond an interim solution, VDI services prove to offer many businesses long term value. We see several reasons for considering a move to VDI, including:

  • Support for hybrid work environments. With employees working in office and remote, a VDI environment provides a single computing environment for your entire business.  Accessing files and applications is the same, regardless of location and end user device.
  • Strategic Savings. VDI services extend the useful life of your existing laptops and desktops.  Since VDI clients are not processing data locally, the demand on processors, memory, and disk space are minimal.  Aging equipment can remain in service without impacting performance.
  • Improved Security.  VDI services run in secure, professionally run data centers. We use Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform for VDI services. VDI provides private, secure networks, with multiple access options to meet your business needs.
  • Business Continuity and Resiliency. The faster you can recover from a disaster or technology failure, the better your business will survive and grow. VDI services remove most of the risks from local disasters and system failures.  As you can access your services from anywhere you are Internet-connected, and from most any end user device, teams can easily relocate and work around localized disruptions.

As disruption of technology supply chains continues, VDI allows you to upgrade your environment without investing in new desktop and laptop devices. You can move forward with your business without worrying about system availability.

To explore if VDI services can help your business, contact us about our security assessments, or schedule an intro call with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Define the Role of Your Cloud File Service

Experts Exchange.Standard.200

This blog post is a reprint of an article first published on Experts Exchange as part of a series on cloud strategies and issues for small and mid-size businesses.

 


Cloud file services can fill many different roles for your business. Often, the use of cloud file services begins with employees using consumer products, like Dropbox, to share files with customers and each other. While sync-and-share can be an effective way to manage files, you should always rely on the business editions to ensure that the business is in possession of, and is managing, your data.

That said, this use of sync-and-share tends to be transient in nature. At the other end of the spectrum, many businesses are replacing on-premise servers, NAS, and SANs with cloud file services, which become the primary file service.
To help you plan how to create the best file service for your business, consider these working definitions and considerations with respect to data protection and management.

Transient File Service

  • Transient file services are used occasionally for storage and sharing of files.
  • Often a sync-and-share service (Dropbox, box.net, etc) or a peer-to-peer service (Drive, etc.), files are copied to the file service and shared.
  • In most cases, files sync back, or are manually copied, to their primary location. As the primary location for files is protected by backups and permissions management, transient file service generally don’t need or have backup protection.
  • Permissions management is often the responsibility of the individual users. As such, transient file services should not be used for sensitive or protected (PHI, PCI, etc) information.

Secondary File Service

  • A Secondary File Service will fill the role that the Transient File Service provides, but will also be the home — the system of record — for some information.
  • Companies create Secondary File Services to handle information that is used collaboratively, but wants to keep internally-used data and critical business information in-house. An architecture firm, for example, might have active projects residing in a cloud file service while keeping past project data and internal operations (HR, finance, accounting, strategy) on in-house systems.
  • While sync-and-share can serve the needs of secondary file server, peer-to-peer and managed file services provide better control over your data.
  • As a Secondary File Service will be the system-of-record for important information (i.e., the data is not synced or copied to other storage), these file services should be protected by Backups.
  • Secondary File Services may or may not be used for sensitive or protected information. If they are, then active permissions monitoring and management is advised to prevent inappropriate disclosures, leaks, or breaches.​

Primary File Service

  • A Primary File Service becomes the system of record for most, if not all, of your company’s files and data. As such, the cloud file service will hold sensitive and protected data.  Access, permissions, and protection are as critical in the cloud as they are on-premise.
  • Backup/recovery and active permissions management become critical components for ensuring data reliability, security, and privacy, and may be required for regulatory or industry compliance.
  • While smaller businesses can use the peer-to-peer, larger businesses or those with larger numbers of files find that a managed and structured file service works better.
  • Centralized ownership and control over permissions improves security and efficiency.
  • Sync-and-share services may still be used to support off-line work, but should be managed closely to ensure sensitive and protected data remains secure.
 Hybrid File Service
  • A Hybrid File Service exists when the Primary File Service is split between on-premise servers and cloud-based file services.  A Hybrid File Service differs from the use of a Secondary File Service in that the Hybrid File Service sees both on-premise and in-cloud as equal components of the ecosystem. Data location is based on access needs and usage rather than on the type of data.
  • For some organizations, Hybrid File Services represent a transition period from on-site to cloud file services. For others, Hybrid File Services reflect a broader hybrid cloud strategy that mixes SaaS and IaaS services with on-premise systems.
  • As Hybrid File Services create a cloud-based extension of on-premise servers, a managed file service with central ownership and permissions control is most often the best structure.
  • With a Hybrid File Service, the cloud component requires backup/recovery and permissions protection on-par with your in-house servers.

By understanding and defining the role of your cloud file services, you have a better understanding of the type of service to use — sync-and-share, peer-to-peer, or managed file services. You can also best determined the level of backup/recovery, access, permissions, and encryption you want and need to meet your business’ needs and any regulatory or industry requirements.


To learn more watch our 3T@3 Webcast from May 2015, Designing a Cloud File Service, or contact us with your questions or interest.