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CARES ACT Emergency Funds for SMBs

(UPDATED 4/06/20; Originally published 3/30/20 using information compiled and provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

4/06/20 Updates – Paycheck Protection Program and Debt Reliev

From the SBA information site.

  • On Friday 4/2, the SBA changed and updated the Paycheck Program Protection loan application and required documentation.  In addition to annual payroll reports and copies of your 940 for 2019, you need to provide quarterly 941’s and payroll reports.  Check with your lender, as you may need to resubmit your application package.
  • On Friday 4/2, the SBA Debt Relief website was changed to state that the SBA will automatically make six (6) months of payments on existing SBA 7a and 504 program loans.  We recommend contacting your SBA lender to confirm.
  • If you apply for the EIDL, you are eligible for a $10,000 forgivable advance (even if you do not close on the EIDL). You may also qualify for a $25,000 bridge loan.  Applying for the EIDL now, however, may impede your ability to secure a Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan. We recommend speaking with your lender BEFORE submitting your EIDL application.

4/01/20 Updates – Paycheck Protection Program

From the SBA information site.

  • You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
  • Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.
  • If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download a sample form to see the information that will be requested from you.

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. These loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.

Am You Eligible?

You are eligible if you are:

  • A small business with fewer than 500 employees
  • A small business that otherwise meets the SSA’s size standard
  • A 501(c)(3) with fewer than 500 employees
  • An Individual who operates as a sole proprietor
  • An Individual who operates as an Independent contractor
  • An Individual who is self-employed who regularly carries on any trade or business
  • A Tribal business concern that meets the SBA size standard
  • A 501(c)(19) Veterans Organizati0n that meets the SBA size standard

In addition, some special rules may make you eligible:

  • If you are in the accommodation and food services sector (NAICS 72), the 500-employee rule is applied on a per physical location basis
  • If you are operating as a franchise or receive financial assistance from an approved Small Business Investment Company the normal affiliation rules do not apply

What Will Lenders Want to See?

In evaluating eligibility, lenders are directed to consider whether the borrower was in  operation before February 16. 2020 and had employees for whom they paid salaries and payroll taxes or paid independent contractors.

Lenders will ask you for a good faith certification that:

  1. The uncertainty of current economic conditions makes the loan request necessary to support ongoing operations
  2. The borrower will use the loan proceeds to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage, lease, and utility payments
  3. Borrower does not have an application pending for a loan that duplicates the purpose and amounts applied for here
  4. From Feb. 15, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020, the borrower has not received a loan that duplicates the purpose and amounts applied for here (Note: You may be able to fold emergency loans received since Jan. 31, 2020 into this loan)

If you are an independent contractor, sole proprietor, or self-employed individual, lenders will also be looking for certain documents, such as payroll tax filings, Forms 1099-MISC, and income and expenses from the sole proprietorship.

Please also note that lenders will NOT look for:

  • That you sought and were unable to obtain credit elsewhere
  • A personal guarantee (not required for the loan)
  • Collateral (not required for the loan)

How Much Can You Borrow?

Loans can be up to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs, not to exceed $10 million.  You Payroll Cost is the sum of included payroll costs less excluded payroll costs, as follows.

Included Payroll Costs for Employers: the sum of payments of any compensation with respect to employees that is a:

  • Salary, wage, commission, or similar compensation
  • Payment of a cash tip or equivalent
  • Payment for vacation, sick, or family medial leave
  • Allowance for dismissal or separation
  • Payment required for the provisions of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums
  • Payment of retirement benefits
  • Payment of state or local tax assess on the compensation of the employee

For Sole Proprietors, Independent Contractors, and Self-Employed Individuals: the sum of  payments of any compensation to, or income, that is a wage, commission, income, net earnings from self-employment, or similar compensation, and that is an amount that is not more than $100,000 in one year, as pro-rated for the covered period.

Excluded Payroll Costs:

  • Compensation of an individual employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,000, prorated for the period of Feb. 15 to June 30, 2020
  • Payroll taxes, railroad retirement taxes, and income taxes
  • Any compensation of an employee whose principal place of residence is outside the United States
  • Qualified sick leave wages for which a credit is allowed under Section 7001 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Note that special rules apply for businesses not in operation for all of 2019 and for calculating average wages for seasonal employees.

Will This Loan be Forgiven?

Borrowers are eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount the borrower spent on the following items during the 8-week period beginning on the date of the origination of the loan.

  • Payroll costs (see above for criteria)
  • Interest on the mortgage obligation incurred in the ordinary course of business
  • Rent on a leasing agreement
  • Payments on utilities (electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone, or internet)
  • Additional wages paid to tipped employees

The amount of the loan forgiveness will be reduces if there is a reduction in the number of employees or a reduction of greater than 25% in wages paid to employees. Staffing and wage reductions occurring in the period starting Feb. 15, 2020 and ending 30 days after the enactment of the CARES Act shall not reduce the amount of loan forgiveness IF the staffing or wage reductions are eliminated by June 30, 2020.

What are The Next Steps?

The SBA needs to identify lenders that will facilitate the program. As such, this program is not yet on the SBA’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

You can download the US Chamber of Commerce’s guide here.

We do recommend that you contact your current SBA lender, if you have one, or your business banker. Get on their call list once the program is up and running.  Your accountant and bookkeeper will need to pull financial information, so give them a heads up as well.

COVID-19 Resources for SMBs

Updated 03/30/20; Additions in italics.

As a service to our clients and to small and midsize businesses, we are collating resources to help you mitigate the economic and business impact of the COVID-19 emergency.

Some of these resources are informational, others are tools that can help you adapt your business to current conditions. This post covers the following topics and will be updated regularly.

  • Tools & Services for Remote / Virtual Work
  • Informational Webcasts
  • Emergency Financial Assistance (updated 3/3o)
  • Customer Engagement Tools
  • HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing in G Suite
  • Free / Discounted Phone and Communication Services

Tools & Services for Remote / Virtual Work

Informational Webcasts

  • We are posting information webcasts from multiple sources in our News & Events calendar. Please check the calendar for dates and times.
    • Open Office Hours — Cumulus Global
    • COVID-19: General FAQs for Employers — Massachusetts Health Council (MHC) & Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM)
    • The Remote Worker: Effective Virtual Meetings – Brainstorm, a Cumulus Global partner in learning
  • NOTE: While some events may be from organizations in our area, we expect the information to be useful to all small and midsize organizations.

Emergency Financial Assistance:

  • In Massachusetts:
    • The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation has halted its disaster loan program to avoid conflict with the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program (see below)
  • In ALL States:
    • With the passage of the CARES Act, additional loan programs will be available.  See this post for info on the loan/forgiveness program.
    • The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is available to most businesses nationally.  Start here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
      • The Small Business Administration (SBA) has made an important adjustment to the terms of its Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). Moving forward, EIDL loans will defer payments for the first year (twelve months) of the loan.
    • The SBA launched an Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program offering emergency loans up to $25,000. Click here for information.

Customer Engagement Tools

  • Live Chat
    • Adding live chat to your website can help you facilitate sales and customer service, and can provide a role for your sales team.
    • Contact us to discuss solutions
  • Phone Services
    • Providing remote workers access to your business phone system helps facilitate customer interactions.
    • Contact us if your current phone system does not let you easily extend to employee laptops, tablets, or phones.
    • We have affordable ways to improve communications, often by augmenting your current phone services.
  • Webcast Services
    • Webcasts and video meetings and want to engage customer, employees, and other face-t0-face.
    • If you are running G Suite or Office 365, you have the ability to run video meetings and broadcasts without additional costs.
    • Contact us if you want to learn more or need assistance running a meeting.
    • We can also assist with more advanced web/video meeting services.

HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing in G Suite

  • Hangouts Meet, the new video meeting service in G Suite can be used for HIPAA compliant video sessions
  • Hangouts named video calls are not covered by G Suite’s HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA)
  • For best practices, administrators should make Meet the default for video meetings and disallow use of classic Hangouts and chat.  These settings can be limited to specific groups of users, if appropriate.
  • Contact us for assistance with these settings and/or user training.

Free/Discounted Phone and Communication Services

  • Several VoIP and online meeting providers are offering free or dramatically discounted services for up to 90 days.
  • These services can be configured to work with your existing phone services to extend access and features to employees that do not normally work remotely
  • Contact us to discuss your needs, workflows, and options.
CRN MSP 500

Cumulus Global Recognized on CRN’s 2020 MSP 500 List

CRN MSP 500 Continued Recognition of Cumulus Global as Pioneer in Managed Cloud Services

Cumulus Global, the Cloud Forward service provider, announced today that CRN® a brand of The Channel Company has named Cumulus Global to its 2020 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category. The MSP 500 identifies North American solution providers that deliver operational efficiencies, IT system improvements, and a higher rate of return on investments for their customers.

“MSPs are the critical bridge for customers looking to assess, implement and migrate their IT and cloud solutions to drive efficiencies, lower costs and secure your environment,” said Bob Skelley, CEO of The Channel Company. “On behalf of our team at The Channel Company, I want to congratulate the accomplished companies on CRN’s 2020 MSP 500 list and thank them for their commitment to finding innovative solutions that move the IT channel forward.”

For the second consecutive year, Cumulus Global is being recognized for its managed cloud services that deliver desired business outcomes to small and midsize businesses, local governments, and K12 schools. Beyond deployment, training, and support, Cumulus Global helps organizations and teams fully utilize their IT and cloud services for the best value and greatest impact.

“We are honored for the continued recognition as an industry leader,” noted Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global. “I am proud of our team members who measure our success by measuring our clients’ success.”

The MSP 500 list is available in the February 2020 issue of CRN and online at www.crn.com/msp500.


Please contact us for more information or to schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisor session.

Best Practices

Cyber Protection: Time for New Best Practices

Best PracticesAccording to a recent survey* of IT service providers, ransomware attack downtime costs 23 times more than requested ransom. The average ransom for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) victims jumped 37% to $5,900 from 2018 to 2019.  The average cost of ransomware downtime jumped from $46,800 to $141,000, and increase of more than 200%.

To add to your concerns, SMBs fall victim to cyber crime and ransomware attacks even when they have traditional antivirus, email/spam, ad/pop-up blockers, and endpoint protection in place.  67% of IT service providers report their SMB customers fall victim to phishing emails; 30% report that most customers still rely on weak passwords and access management.

Traditional cyber security solutions are no match for many cyber attackers. We need a new approach to ransomware, with business continuity at the core.

Using business continuity as a guiding principle drives new best practices for preventing and responding to cyber security attacks. With a business continuity mindset, you focus on what is needed to keep the business running, and how quickly you can “return to operations”.  When we discuss business continuity, we understand that we need to take steps to prevent disruption, mitigate the scope of potential disruptions, respond effectively when disruptions happen, and have the systems and processes in place to recover quickly.

For over a year, we have promoted and refined our CPR model:

Communicate and Educate: Involve everybody in the solution by educating your team on the risks, how to spot and report fraudulent content, and how their behavior can prevent or help an attack.

Protect and Prevent: Implement multi-layer, multi-vector protections that focuses on your people (identities), data, applications, and systems. Our data, our businesses, no longer sit comfortably hidden in a computer room behind a firewall.

Respond and Recover: No defense is perfect. Have services in solutions in place that let you recover and return to operations within a time frame that protects the health of your business. More than getting data and systems back on line, put in place the forensics, legal, public relations, and customer service resources you will likely need in a cyber attack emergency.

Time for Action

Here are 10 Actions you can initiate today to improve your cyber protection:

  1. Ensure your computing environment is protected across multiple attack vectors: Identity, Endpoints, User Data, Cloud Apps, and Infrastructure.
  2. Deploy multi-factor authentication, advanced threat protection, next-gen endpoint protection, and DNS/web protection across your ecosystem for a comprehensive baseline or protection.
  3. Encrypt your data at rest and in transit.
  4. Educate your team on the risk and how their actions can impact the business.
  5. Actively manage your cloud and “as-a-Service” subscriptions, standardize on-boarding and off-boarding of staff and contractors based on role, application needs, and appropriate access to data.
  6. Understand how your team uses your business and unauthorized (“shadow IT”) applications and services.  Reign in shadow IT by ensuring your business systems provide staff with the necessary capabilities.
  7. Test your staff’s behavior related to cyber attacks and follow up with additional coaching and guidance. Discipline and, if needed, terminate those who are unwilling or unable to adapt to the current realities of behavior and risk.
  8. Upgrade from data backup/recovery to a business continuity solution that will get you up and running in minutes or hours, instead of days, should an attack get past your defenses.
  9. Arrange in advance for the legal, forensic, PR, communications, and customer service resources you need to respond to an attack with a potential or actual data breach.  Prepaid breach response services give you nearly instant access, reducing your risks and liability while bundling in baseline cyber insurance coverage.
  10. Get cyber insurance, either a baseline policy bundled with Breach Response services and/or a fully underwritten policy from your business insurance provider.

Please contact us for more information about your cyber protection, available assessments, and solutions. We are happy to schedule a free, no obligation Cloud Advisor Session.

* Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report. Datto, Inc. Oct. 2019.


 

Cyber Attack

Cyber Insurance or Breach Response?

Cyber AttackThere is a large discussion, and no small amount of pressure, for businesses to obtain cyber insurance policies.  Articles appear in a range business and technology publications, from the Memphis Business Journal to the Wall Street Journal, and from Inc. Magazine to Forbes. But getting the right cyber insurance policy is not easy, and can be costly. And while cyber insurance helps cover damages, many policies do not provide immediate assistance with managing your response to an attack or data breach.

For SMBs, three key cyber insurance considerations are the barriers to entry, coverage exclusions, and coverage delays.

  • Barriers to Entry
    • Most cyber insurance policies go through underwriting to determine coverage limits and premiums. This means the insurer will want to review and audit your security related policies, procedures, and technologies. Insurance carriers may also demand that you invest in new or additional measures in order to qualify for a policy or to ensure the premiums will be affordable.  For many small and midsize businesses (SMBs), this process requires specialized skills, time, and money. Many SMBs will need to spend over $5,000, with some spending up to $20,000, in order to pass the underwriting process.
  • Coverage Exclusions
    • Cyber insurance claims are routinely reduced or declined due to non-compliance with policy requirements.  Even after the underwriting process, most cyber insurance policies include dozens of security requirements that must be in place and properly maintained.  Any gap or misstep can be costly.
  • Coverage Delays
    • If your business is the victim of a cyber attack, your response has legal requirements and requires specific technical expertise. Claims processing can delay your ability to secure the resources you need for hours or days.

Clearly, cyber insurance one piece of the solution, along with appropriate security measures.

Having a Breach Response plan and resources in place will save you time and money.

In any cyber attack, start by assuming the attackers have stolen information.  If an attack can encrypt your files, it can steal under-protected files and data from your systems.  With a data breach, federal and state laws dictate a range of reporting and communication requirements that, if missed, can trigger fines and legal action. With a data breach, you need a range of expert resources and you need them quickly.

  • Legal Expertise fluent in cyber security laws and regulations helps ensure you comply with reporting and communication requirements to minimize your legal and financial exposure.
  • Forensics Expertise can identify the cause, timing, and scope of the attack and any breach, and can help validate that the issues allowing the breach have been resolved.
  • Public Relations Services will help you communicate with employees, vendors, customers, and as is often the case — the press. Providing accurate and appropriate information can protect your business relationships and your public reputation.
  • Contact Center Services provide a place for customers, vendors, and associates to call for timely and accurate information.  You are further protecting your business relationships and reputation.
  • Credit Monitoring for individuals whose personal or business information may have been compromised can reduce litigation risk and may be required by law.

While cyber insurance policies generally cover these services, most do so as part of the claims approval process. As such, you may be out of pocket for thousands of dollars and fighting for reimbursement once your claim is processed.

By subscribing to a Breach Response service, the resources and expertise you need are available instantly,  7×24, without any additional cost over the monthly or annual fee.  These services often include basic cyber insurance policies that do not require any underwriting.  For many SMBs, the annual cost of this type of Breach Response service, with basic cyber insurance coverage, is significantly less than the cost of the underwriting process for a traditional cyber insurance policy.  Additionally, you can use this policy for coverage until they completing a policy with underwriting, or to cover initial loss coverage under a higher deductible (lower premium) traditional cyber insurance policy.


For more information about Breach Response Services and affordable Cyber Insurance, please contact us for a no obligation Cloud Advisor call.


 

What You Don’t Know Can’t Help You

I expect you have heard the old saying:

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” — Anonymous

In the cloud-y world of IT services and solutions, the lesson is better expressed as:

“What you don’t know, can’t help you!” — Allen Falcon

For a long time, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) moved to the cloud to replace existing services with more efficient, secure, and accessible cloud services. This was good for a while, but the landscape has and will continue to change. Now, when we talk to SMBs like yours about current IT services and the cloud, we talk about your business objectives and priorities. We talk about your growth opportunities, challenges to overcome, and how we can help you and your business succeed.

Today’s cloud services reflect your need for business results.

Cloud services, like Microsoft 365 Business, include a range of additional apps new to Office and, in most cases, unique to the cloud.  These apps give you access to value-add tools designed to help your business, such as:

  • Outlook Customer Manager: A simple contact manager and CRM tool that integrates with your existing inbox, calendar, and contacts
  • Bookings: An app that allows customers to easily self-schedule appointments from available time slots
  • Listings: A marketing app to build online pages and presence on Facebook, Google, and other platforms
  • MileIQ: Automated mileage tracking app for expense reports and/or tax filings
  • Connections: An easy-to-use app for simple email marketing tasks and campaigns
  • Flow: Automate processes, work flows, and approvals

These apps are joined by low-cost add-on services that let you to consolidate and simplify your IT environment — and save money.  For example, in Microsoft 365, adding PSTN conferencing gives you a standard telephone bridge for any Skype for Business or Teams conference call.  You can replace paid conferencing and web meeting services like WebEx, Zoom, and GoToMeeting with a tool that truly integrates with Outlook, your inbox, and your calendar.  At a cost of only $4 per user per month, and the ability to limit your purchase to users with a defined need, you can dramatically lower the cost of audio and video conferencing while providing a better experience for organizers and attendees.

Clearly, Microsoft 365 is not simply “Office in the Cloud.”  The value-add apps, low cost add-on services, and more than a half dozen additional security features in Microsoft 365 create a more robust ecosystem for productivity, efficiency, and growth.

The Challenge is Adoption.

Adding value only happens when your team is aware of, and knows how to use, the broad range of capabilities in services like Microsoft 365.  Getting your team from Point A to Point B, and then Point C, takes effort.

Here are some ideas to help you empower your team and enable your business:

  • Don’t Overwhelm:
    • Presenting too many capabilities, or too much training, all at once can overwhelm your team. Instead of understanding how they can do their jobs more efficiently, they may feel lost.
    • Not knowing where to start leads to paralysis.
  • Start with the Familiar:
    • Even the traditional Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.) have features that are unique to the Microsoft 365 versions and ecosystem.
    • Refresh your team’s knowledge of the apps they already use and know, adding these incremental productivity features into the mix.
  • Focus on Capabilities Specific to each Role:
    • Not every person needs every app or feature.
    • Focus on matching specific features, apps, and capabilities to the people on your team that will benefit the most.
    • Lessons and learning should be relevant to each team member’s job.
  • Provide Continuous Learning for Continuous Improvement:
    • Make learning an on-going activity that happens in small, manageable events.
    • 3 to 5 minutes per day, less than 20 minutes per week, can provide team members with ideas and insight they can put to immediate use.
  • Create a Culture of Learning:
    • Incent participation to set clear expectations and establish value for the learning process.
    • Monitor team member participation and progress.
    • Provide feedback and encouragement, particularly to the “leaders” and “laggers”.
    • Encourage team members to share their knowledge with peers.

Getting more value from your existing IT and cloud solutions starts when your team understands what is there for them, and how to use it to their advantage.  Improving adoption improves results, and need not be a major cost or time commitment.


Cumulus Global offers a self-paced, video learning system that tailors content to roles within your organization.  For more information, contact us for a brief call with one of our Cloud Advisors.


 

Newtons Cradle

Inertia: The Science of Business Continuity

Newtons CradleTo paraphrase Newton’s Laws of Motion (with credit to Galileo) …

Absent an unbalanced force, an object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest.

While this holds true for objects in a friction-less environment, it holds true for our businesses as well. Our businesses are in motion, working each day to service our customers with rhythms and cycles throughout each day, week, month, and year.

Our business cycles continue, until we meet an unbalanced force.

Some forces we expect, like changes in the economy that occur over a period of weeks or months.  Others forces are event-driven, such as storms, cyber attacks, and key employee departures. The sudden nature of event-driven forces can catch us by surprise, cripple our businesses in the short-term, and disrupt our normal cycles for the long-term.

A Case in Point

A company here in the northeast manufactures and distributes a customized product that customers generally replace or re-order every 2 to 3 years.  80% of the firm’s business is repeat, creating a strong and stable business. The company was hit by ransomware twice in a 3 month period.  The first attack, scrambled their files and their servers, but left their financial system in place.  They lost a day’s worth of data.  The immediate recovery took 3 days; the full recovery took nearly two weeks.  After three days of cleaning systems and restoring data, the company’s systems were up and running. They then had to enter the initial day lost data and all of the business activity for the 3 days their systems were down.  They allocated 1/3 of everybody’s time to recover the data, reducing productivity by 33% and impacting their responsiveness to customers. To enter the 4 days of missing data took over 10 days with the team working part time.

Inertia Takes Hold

This initial event changed the cycles and motions of the company. Whenever dealing with any business activity during the outage and recovery periods, they need to double check to make sure the information entered was complete and correct. And since some activities, like shipping and invoices related to prior activities, they need to double-check these connections.  Long after the two week recovery period, productivity is still down as the company’s daily motion now includes double-checking information that they are not sure they can trust.

Lesson NOT Learned

With so much focus on getting the business back into its normal rhythm, and the additional cost involved, the company did not act on recommendations that could help prevent a future attack and better ensure their ability to recover should a future attack occur. Whether the second attack was a different attack or they had failed to fully clean their systems does not matter.  The second attack was not caught until after the company’s backup server was hit, rendering their backups useless.  The company lost three years of data.

Inertia Creates a New Cycle

To recover from this attack took more than balancing data entry and on-going business. It was not feasible to manually recreate three years of data. While entering about 6 months of data for the fiscal year, they settled for a solution that created new methods and rhythms with long-term effects. They recalled all of their paper records from storage into an expanded warehouse space.  When a customer calls to re-order product they ordered 2 or 3 years ago, they search and retrieve the physical paperwork so they can create the new order. Every returning customer creates a scramble to find the paperwork in short order. Actions required in an emergency become part of the new normal. Inertia.

What You Can Do

You can be prepared with solutions that balance external forces beyond your control.

  • An educated and aware workforce balances the human manipulation that enables cyber attacks
  • Advanced threat, DNS, and web protections balance the forces of cyber attacks hitting us daily.
  • A robust backup/recovery and continuity system balances the forceful impact of disruptive events, giving you the ability to be up and running in hours not days.

If the company in our case study had implemented the recommended solutions after the first attack, they second attack would have disrupted the business for less than half a day — and may not have happened at all. The investment in communication, prevention, and recovery, while not trivial, was minor compared to the short term recovery and long term impact on the business.

If you are not ready or willing to have your business’ inertia redirected by forces beyond your control, now is the time to act.


Contact us for a free, no obligation, Cloud Advisor Session to discuss your business recovery and continuity needs and plans.


 

Feb 16, 2018

Cumulus Global Sponsorship of Economic Forecast Forum Helps Area Businesses Adapt to Changing Economic Conditions

Click to RegisterSmall and midsize businesses in central Massachusetts face new challenges as new tax codes, low unemployment, changing regulations, shifting trade agreements, and inflationary risks impact the regional economy in unpredictable ways. The economy is changing and businesses need to adapt and transform to survive and grow.

Cumulus Global, an award-winning managed cloud service provider based in Westborough, MA, is proud to co-sponsor the Worcester Business Journal’s annual Economic Forecast Forum on February 16, 2018 at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester, MA.

“With a sound understanding how national, regional, and local issues effect the business climate, area SMB’s are better prepared to thrive and grow,” stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.

As a supporting sponsor, Cumulus Global is helping empower owners and leaders to make timely, effective decisions. Forum attendees will hear from Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, Executive Vice President & Senior Policy Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, along with a panelist of area business and government leaders. Cumulus Global will be on hand to discuss the changing role of technology how businesses can draw more value from existing IT systems and new cloud services.

News from Cumulus Global

SMBs Benefit from Tech and Policy Mashup

Westborough, MA – Faced with increasing regulations and a changing technology landscape, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) struggle to ensure compliance and maintain data privacy. With the sophistication of rasonmware attacks and advanced persistent threats, employee awareness and behavior is more important than ever. Cloud technology makes it easier to share, even when sharing is not appropriate.

To help SMBs tackle these challenges, Cumulus Global (www.cumulusglobal.com) and Privacy Ref (www.privacyref.com) announced a unique partnership designed to help SMBs assess their needs and risks, plan and implement sound privacy practices, and respond to threats and potential breaches.

“Smaller businesses face the same regulations and requirements of large corporations,” noted Bob Siegel, Founder and President of Privacy Ref. “SMBs generally do not have the internal resources and expertise to create and manage a privacy program. This partnership gives SMBs a place to turn for guidance, expertise, and results.”

In addition to privacy assessments and policy updates, the Privacy Education Programs provides SMBs with the awareness education and training needed to ensure employees understand the risks and their role in preventing attacks and breaches.

“Our role is to ensure businesses can avoid and prevent malware attacks and data breaches,” noted Allen Falcon, CEO and Pragmatic Evangelist at Cumulus Global. “We ensure that the protecting technology, policies and procedures, and people are working together for the greatest level of protection.”

Through the partnership, SMBs also gain access to a range of data protection and recovery services and tools. These tools help prevent attacks and breaches and facilitate response and recovery if needed.

Cloud Strategy

Cloud Computing Still Needs a Grand Strategy

In a recent post on Forbes, columnist Joe McKendrick discusses a Cisco-sponsored IDC survey results showing a lack of coordinated cloud strategies among large enterprises.  Nearly half, or 47%, describe their cloud strategies as “opportunistic” or “ad hoc”. The 14% or respondents claiming managed, optimized cloud strategies, report substantial and tangible business benefits. These successes come from how applications are built and deployed, a strategy that does not always work for small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

SMB Cloud is Different

Cloud StrategyWhereas most enterprise cloud strategies focus on building new line of business applications and rebuilding existing systems for the cloud, most small and midsize businesses are not building or customizing their own applications. When SMBs do use custom applications, they typically rely on outside firms for development and support. When SMBs move to the cloud, they normally start with “infrastructure” services like email and file services. Existing business applications are often replaced by SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) cloud solutions — either from the current vendor or as a replacement.

SMB Cloud Forward Strategy

Without a strategy, you can end up struggle to get all of the pieces of your IT in the cloud connected to each other and/or your on-premise systems. For you, as an SMB decision maker, a sound strategy will:

  • Identify your business goals and objectives
  • Use these goals and objectives to define and prioritize your near-term and long-term technology needs
  • Create an architecture that defines the pieces — platforms, applications, and data — and how the pieces fit together
  • Drive your decision to go Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, and/or another cloud platform or ecosystem

Creating your cloud strategy requires some thought and effort, but need not be a lengthy or overwhelming task. Starting with your business priorities and answering a few key questions gets you most of the way there. Once in place, your Cloud Strategy will guide your product selections as well as the order and timing of your deployments.


Interested in creating or updating your Cloud Strategy? Contact us for a Cloud Advisor session — for free and without obligation, or complete our Productivity Cloud Questionnaire for a free assessment and recommendation report.