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Rethinking Business Process Reengineering in the Cloud

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Nearly 25 years ago, Michael Hammer and James Champy coauthored one of the most influential business books of the period, Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution, anticipating some of the important changes that lay ahead.

The corporate world was trying to cope with the growing pressures of globalization and the advent of personal computing. The public Internet was not yet upon us, but the need for businesses of all sizes to rethink how they operated was becoming imperative.

Nearly every major corporation and many mid-size organizations were suffering under the weight of bloated operations that needed to be streamlined, according to the book. In many cases, they also were plagued with broken business processes that needed to be fixed.

Those problems could be resolved, Hammer and Champy maintained, with a combination of new management thinking, supported by a new generation of client-server technologies that would distribute computing power more evenly across an enterprise.

The Migration Is Under Way

Those ideas became known as “business process reengineering.” BPR became the battle cry of management consulting firms and software/IT vendors for nearly a decade, until Y2K fears redirected everyone’s attention, and IT outsourcing became a convenient method of offloading longstanding IT problems to third parties.

Despite the grand promises surrounding the BPR ideas and client-server technologies, most organizations fell short of achieving their corporate objectives of becoming more responsive to escalating customer and competitive pressures.

Those pressures have intensified in the new era of the Web, e-commerce and mobile devices, and the cloud has become the latest source of refuge for organizations trying to revamp their business operations.

“In the next three years, enterprises will make a fundamental shift from building IT to consuming IT” via the cloud, predicts a recently published reportbased on a McKinsey & Co. survey.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of the 800 CIOs and IT executives who participated in the survey used traditional on-premises IT infrastructure as the primary operating environment for at least one workload in 2015, according to the report.

Less than 25 percent used public Infrastructure as a Service cloud solutions as the primary method of supporting their workloads, McKinsey researchers found.

On-premises deployments will drop to 43 percent in 2018, while IaaS adoption will rise to 37 percent in the same year, based on the survey findings.

While the primary motivation of moving workloads to IaaS alternatives is to reduce IT capital investments and ongoing operating expenses, many organizations recognize that the migration process also can give them greater agility. Ironically, that was the original value proposition of BPR back in the 1990s.

Salesforce earlier this year published results of a State of IT survey that found 55 percent of 2,200-plus IT leaders and CIOs worldwide planned to improve their customer-facing apps to increase worker productivity. Forty-seven percent wanted to increase data visibility across the business, and 42 percent were working toward automation of their business processes.

New Life for Old Ideas

Almost all the talk at the company’s recent Dreamforce conference centered on how cloud-based apps can be employed by organizations to support their employees better and engage with their customers and partners more effectively.

Today’s cloud solutions are not only more economical and agile, but also more powerful. Their advanced analytic capabilities can provide greater insights about the end-user’s behavior and preferences.

Better reporting of customer patterns has been the primary goal of Salesforce’s Wave analytics platform. The company decided to raise the bar at Dreamforce by introducing its new Einstein artificial intelligence system, which Salesforce boasts will enable users to predict the needs and desires of their customers.

This powerful AI platform also could be applied to connected products and services via the Internet of Things to improve product and service reliability, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction, the company suggested.

While it is hard to argue with these potential business benefits, Einstein will not be readily available for a while. The Salesforce customers and partners I spoke with said they are just becoming familiar with Einstein, and they don’t expect to implement it anytime soon.

Even Salesforce’s executives admit that in order to gain Einstein’s promised business benefits when it does become available, a fair amount of data integration skills will be required. Forward- minded executives will have to step up to determine the best approach to capitalize on the AI insights.

In the meantime, you can expect plenty of evangelism from Salesforce and its management consulting partners regarding how organizations can bring the old ideas of business process reengineering into the brave new world of digital transformation in the cloud.

Source: Rethinking Business Process

KartikRethinking Business Process Reengineering in the Cloud
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New Website Launch

As FlashByte approaches its 5th year in business we are happy to announce the re-launch of our newly built website, and what good is a new website if you don’t have new services to offer.  So today, to be your one stop I.T. shop, we are happy to announce the addition of new business class services to our portfolio which already included Hosted PBX, Cloud Solutions and Office moves\setup.  These new services are:

We have grown from a break\fix shop to a one stop shop for all your business I.T. needs.  Get in touch with us today to see how we can help your business get the most out of technology.

KartikNew Website Launch
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Top 3 New Features in Windows 10

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Windows 10 release is around the corner and there are some great new features and functions that have been added to draw users back to Microsoft and help recover the damage that Windows 8 caused.

1) Back to the Start….

Windows 10 will bring back the much desired and much missed Start Menu at the bottom left corner.  This time around it will offer more then just apps and a control panel.  Early preview have shown widgets\live icos that can be customized into the Start menu.

2) Internet Explorer (IE) no more…

Well not exactly no more.  The browser that has been around since the popularity of the Internet will still exist within Windows 10 but only for use with legacy applications and sites.  With Windows 10, Microsoft has introduced a newer faster, more secure browser called Spartan. Spartan is heavily integrated into everything you search and do on the web and with the assistance of Cortana (the new Windows 10 assistant) it will make the process more seamless.

3) Universal Apps…

There is a new App store model coming across all the Windows products and as the title suggests, its Universal.  If you install an application on your PC it should be available on your phone and tablet as well.  We are sure they will be some restrictions on this but the whole point is for the end user to work seamlessly no matter where he/she is located.

 

 

 

KartikTop 3 New Features in Windows 10
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Cloud File Storage vs. Cloud Backup

Is there a difference?

In a world where everything is saved, shared and stored to the “cloud” its easy to get lost if your data is safely stored or backed up.

File Storage

There are multiple file storage options available on-line these days, most common brands are Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive.  All of them offer ease of use and push all your files to the cloud, from where they can be accessed anywhere at any time.

But what if you accidentally delete a files(s) on the main computer? That action will replicate almost imminently to the on-line file storage and you have essentially lost that file(s).

This is where a Backup solution comes into play.

Cloud Backup

Cloud Backup solutions not only sync your files in real time but also provide you with the option of selecting a date from which you can restore from.  Most backup solutions should let you backup the last 15 days if not more.  A good backup solution should offer:

  • Daily, weekly, monthly backups
  • Options to archive data
  • Encryption
  • Filters (exclude files that don’t need to be part of the backup)
  • PC and server backup
  • Options to backup data only within Canada, or within U.S. or both.
  • Easy setup and minimal input from the use

A good business will have a combination of both on-line file storage and a cloud backup as part of their Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP).  With high speed internet available almost anywhere in North America your business can move to a temporary site or recover from a disaster much faster then ever before.

When you compare the cost of business downtime vs the cost of these backup solutions it becomes very clear that every business should have a DRP.

Is your business prepared?

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Hosted PBX

Hosted PBX

In a recent study conducted, small businesses that invested into newer technologies saw a 83% positive return through productivity gains, higher efficiency, and improved competitiveness.1 One such technology is Hosted PBX services.  In the past small and medium businesses were forced to spend large sums of money buying and installing locally hosted and managed PBX phone systems for their offices.   This however is no longer the case.  One of the fastest growing trends for businesses is to implement a hosted PBX system.  With a hosted PBX solution the business does not have a need to invest in large servers or expensive infrastructure equipment.  As long as the office is equipped with a high speed internet connection it might already be ready for a hosted PBX solutions.  Some of the great features of a hosted PBX are:

  • Free North America wide long distance
  • Voice mail-to-email
  • Auto-attendant
  • After hours greeting
  • Custom hold music
  • Find-me/Follow me
  • Work from home or office
  • Keep your existing phone number

1Source: Business Development Bank of Canada

 

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What is the Cloud?

What is the Cloud?

Essentially “the cloud” is a collection of shared resources. Servers and networks that are combined together offer businesses a centralized location to store all their data and/or applications.  The Cloud has been around since the birth of the Internet.  Till recently only corporations were able to afford and justify the costs of having Cloud services but with the prices of high speed internet and disk space coming down year after year, almost any small /medium business can afford a Cloud service now.

Types of Clouds

Private Cloud – this has been around since the start of the Internet.  It provides companies that house their servers internally on their own network to share this resource across multiple offices and locations via the internet.

Public Cloud – in recent years this has seen a huge surge in popularity as cost of servers and network operations start to decline.  In Public Cloud companies share the same “space” as other  companies.  For example one server might host 2,4 or 10 different companies (multitenancy).  It all depends on the your needs and budget.

Hybrid Cloud – with internet connections getting faster and more reliable a Hybrid Cloud is quickly becoming the preferred options for most businesses.  It combines the benefits of having an onsite private cloud in conjunction with using a public cloud.  You get the speed and security of having a server within your office walls along with a piece of mind that your files are also available in the cloud if your office network was not accessible.

Cloud Services

Email – Gmail, Hotmail, Exchange..

Data – Dropbox, Box, Skydrive…

Applications (SaaS) – Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce…

 

KartikWhat is the Cloud?
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Backup Your Business Data

Losing some or all of your business data may have devastating consequences. Even if the data isn’t considered critical to your business, the loss of emails, contact data and other documents may still have a considerable impact in lost downtime and productivity.

Creating a back-up of your data is a sensible and easy way to ensure that in the event of a fire, computer theft or virus infection you can recover all of your business information from your computer or website quickly and easily.

The financial cost and time that it takes to create and implement a back up strategy is likely to be only a fraction of what you will spend if you need to recover from a data loss without one.

Think of a backup strategy as insurance for your data.

Top tips

  • Make regular backups of critical data and programs on your computer. Store the backup disks in secure offsite storage.
  • Make sure you avoid needing to recover data by having good security practices in the first place. Install and use security software including a firewall and anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
  • Use a strong password to secure your back-up. This will make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for someone to view it or misuse it.

Develop a back-up strategy

  1. Develop a disaster recovery plan. Start by assessing your level of risk and identifying what actions you can take to minimise the risk.
  2. Assess what data and programs on your computer need to be backed up and how often. You may either back up all the data and certain programs on your hard drive each time you back up or you may do incremental back-ups. Incremental back-ups only include the files that have changed since the last time therefore saving time and space.
  3. Select a back-up device that is large enough to store the files and fast enough so it is not too time-consuming. Examples include CDs, DVDs, memory sticks or an external hard drive.
  4. Make a note somewhere obvious, such as in an office diary, reminding you to do the back-up.
  5. Test the data that has been backed up successfully and that your process is working properly.
  6. Store the back-up copies in a safe location away from your computer systems i.e. away from your home or business premises. Remember putting this information on portable media makes it vulnerable to physical removal so secure it.

Back-up storage devices

Data can be backed up to an external USB hard disk, DVD ROMS, or high capacity tape drives. The cost of storage has fallen dramatically over the past several years. An external portable hard disk big enough to store the data for most small or medium businesses will cost less than $200. Some portable hard drives even come with free back-up software. Larger business can invest in back-up tapes which hold even more data in a small easily transportable format and are usually more cost effective for large amounts of data.

All back-up software should allow back-ups to be created automatically on a scheduled basis. All you have to do in most cases is change the storage media. If you are using USB hard disks you should have several of them that you can rotate, one for each day. This eliminates the chance of a corruption in your main data overwriting your only back-up copy.

You should undertake regular testing of your back-ups to ensure that they are working correctly. This could be as simple as restoring a copy of all or some files to a temporary folder on one of your computers. Most back-up software will come with a feature that can be used to verify the data once it has been written to the back-up device. This makes the back-up process slower but should stop any errors occurring with the process.

Offsite or online storage of back-ups

You should ensure that you create additional copies of your data so that they can be stored offsite. Having an offsite copy ensures that in the event of a break in or fire that you have a copy of your data away from the danger.

A typical back-up strategy could involve making daily back-ups of data which are stored in a secure location on premises with a weekly back-up that is removed from the premises each week.

Companies on the internet offer online back-up of data. Some antivirus products now come with free online backup with around 2GB of space. These can be an ideal solution for some small business but remember that you are entrusting your data to a third party company and that you have no control of who has access to it from within their organisation.

Don’t forget to ensure that all back-ups (onsite, online and offsite) are encrypted and protected with a password.

Password protect back-ups

A back-up on a single storage device makes it convenient for anybody that steals or finds your data! Using a strong password to secure your back-up will make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for someone to view it or misuse it.

Most back-up software will allow you to set a password on the files. Some versions of modern operating systems such as Window Vista and Windows 7 include software for encrypting entire drives on your computer and your back-up devices. There are also free open source software programs that will allow you to do this. Searching the internet for terms such as “open source encrypt backup” will find these software applications.

Source: StaySmartOnline

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The Importance of Having A Website for Any Business

web-design-sthelensOne of the most surprising things when you look at small businesses is how many of them don’t have a website. You would think that in this day and age everybody would know how important a website is for all businesses. Clearly that is not the case. Any business that does not have a website is missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools available to them.

The main reason that it is important for businesses to have a website is how people are likely to find you. These days most people will go online and research products and companies before they make a purchase, if you don’t have a website you are missing out on all of this potential business. Even if people don’t buy your product online they are still likely to research it online so you have to have a website so these people can learn about your business.

A website is also important because it helps you establish credibility as a business. Most people just assume that you have a website since the vast majority of businesses do, at least the vast majority of big companies do. There are actually still quite a few small businesses that don’t have a website and without one this is exactly what they will remain. If you don’t have a website that you can refer people to potential customers are going to assume that you are a small time company that does not take their business seriously. Once you establish this reputation it is going to be hard to make sales.

A website will not only give you credibility but it will also help to give the impression that your company is bigger and more successful than it may actually be. One of the great things about the internet is that the size of your company does not really matter. There is no reason that you can’t get your site to rank in Google ahead of a large multinational competitor and funnel off some of their traffic. This is a big part of the reason that a website is even more important for a small business than a big one, it tends to level the playing field.

Clearly there are still a lot of small businesses that do not have websites, there are various reasons for this but mostly it comes down to the belief that they are expensive. It is rather surprising how much small business owners believe a website will cost them. In truth a website can be built for very little money. Remember you don’t need a giant ten thousand page website for your business, just a simple site that tells people about your company and your products will be more than enough.

Source: Superweb

KartikThe Importance of Having A Website for Any Business
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Android malware could reach the 1 million mark by year’s end

Security firm Trend Micro’s predictions for 2013 include one potentially concerning consideration: The post-PC malware threat has truly arrived, and Android will take the brunt of the targeted nasties throughout this year.

According to the security giant and anti-malware maker, 2012 showed that malware writers, spammers, and hackers have begun to capitalize upon the mobile market, with a particularly keen eye for attacking the Android platform. Not only does Google-owned Android have the greatest market share, therefore making it an easier target, it also has a more open platform to work with, compared to Windows Phone or the iOS-based platforms.

Also on the security agenda was the rise of OS X-targeted malware–as we have seen over the past year–but also a rise in Java-based Windows attacks, which toppled over into the new year with even the US government warning users to disable or uninstall the Web plug-in.

Social-media attacks are also on the rise, showing a distinct trend from the traditional target vector of Windows-based PCs to a wide range of platforms, both online and offline.

And in a “blowing-one’s-own-trumpet” moment, Trend Micro noted that its previous predictions for 2012 have “come true,” the firm said.

A few key takeaways:

  • Trend Micro detected 350,000 threats for Android, with a growth ratio of 14:3 for Android versus PC. In context, it took Android just three years to achieve the PC volume of malware threats within 14 years. By the end of this year, the volume of Android malware could reach as high as the 1 million mark.
Android threat growth.
(Credit: Trend Micro–PDF)
  • The number of Android malware detections spiked in the third quarter from 41,000 to 156,000 samples, according to the firm’s research. 38 percent was adware, 25 percent stole data, while 22 percent included a malicious downloader. Leading the threat type, however, was a premium service abuser at more than 40 percent.
  • Java-based threats helped lead Apple’s OS X platform into the crosshairs of malware writers, hackers, and botnet controllers after the first widespread attack against the Mac.
  • Social-media platforms became a greater target for cybercriminals as the security firm warns users to avoid “oversharing” on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and so on.
  • Enterprises suffered from an “alarming rate” of data breaches and targeted attacks, the firm said. The widely reported Global Payments breach cost more than $94 million and is “still climbing,” to give one example. Meanwhile, targeted attacks–such as allegedly government-backed attacks and other “children of Stuxnet”–are being used to attack high-value targets, notably with the discovery of Flame, Duqu, and Gauss, which derived from the “original” Stuxnet worm.
  • Rather than using existing attacks, attackers used more professional software-development practices, the company said, by using Blackhole Exploit Kit (BHEK), Automatic Transfer Systems (ATS), and “improved” ransomware

 

This article was brought to you by ZDnet

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Security pros cheer hint of hands-off updates in Windows Blue

Microsoft’s apparent plan to automatically update its own Windows Store apps is drawing praise from security experts.

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“People just don’t want to deal with [updating software], nor should they have to,” added Andrew Storms, director of security operations at Tripwire’s nCircle.”Auto-updating apps … improve security and are great for anybody that does not have their own update or patch management solution,” said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, in an email reply to questions.

Kandek and Storms were reacting to reports Monday that the next version of Windows 8, code named “Blue” by Microsoft and thought to be formally dubbed Windows 8.1, will automatically update Microsoft-made apps designed for the tile-based “Modern,” née “Metro,” user interface (UI).

The WinBeta blog was the first to note the auto-updating when it examined a recently-leaked build of Windows 8.1, saying that the PC powered by the still-unreleased upgrade had received silent updates to several Modern apps via the Windows Update service.

Currently, Modern apps bundled with Windows 8 and Windows RT, or those later installed by users, must be updated manually: Customers receive an alert when an app update is available, but must still steer to the Windows Store, the official download market for all Modern apps, to retrieve and install the update.

That hands-on model runs counter to long-standing Microsoft philosophies regarding software updating and patching, which hold that the less asked of users, the safer they are. The most prominent example of that outlook is the Windows Update service and its by-default enabling of Automatic Updates, which silently downloads and installs fixes, patches and even additional features to the operating system without user interaction.

If WinBeta’s claims are accurate and automatic updating of Microsoft’s Modern apps makes it into the final of Windows 8.1, customers will be safer, the experts contended.

For Storms, automatic app updates fit nicely with Microsoft’s previously-announced plans to issue Modern app patches on the fly, not only on the monthly Patch Tuesday. “It’s a reflection of where Microsoft is heading,” Storms said. “Their internal philosophies [regarding updates] are starting to change because it’s a transition time for them.”

WinBeta provided no evidence that third-party Modern apps would also be updated automatically, hinting that Microsoft will hew to tradition, and reserve Windows Update for its own software.

Consumers may generally consent to automatic updates, but enterprises have historically balked at modifying company machines without compatibility testing to make sure new code doesn’t break existing applications or workflows. Businesses have also often blocked upgrades sporting new features for fear of increased employee training costs or a sudden flood of calls to the help desk.

But corporations should rethink those conservative practices and get with the program, argued Kandek “While I believe some enterprise shops will want to control this update process in a tighter way, many companies will be better off letting machines — at least workstations — auto-update and trust the built-in and battle-tested update mechanism to keep machines up to date as long as they are connected to the Internet,” he said.

Kandek cited instances where corporate IT has already been cut out of the update loop, including employee-owned devices such as Apple iPads and iPhones, and Android-powered tablets and smartphones, and browsers like Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, both of which rely on silent updating services.

“Windows 8.1 is just another example of that tendency [toward auto-updating in the enterprise],” Kandek said.

Storms was more cautious, if only because of a recent episode where a flawed Windows patch crippled an unknown number of Windows 7 PCs with the infamous “Blue Screen of Death” and constant reboots.

“I think at some point every app that is not cloud-delivered will end up being 100% auto-updating,” Storms said. “If it weren’t for the BSOD-related patch from Micr

Microsoft has not revealed a release schedule for Windows 8.1, saying only that it plans to deliver updates more frequently. Most analysts and pundits, however, expect Microsoft to preview Windows 8.1 at its BUILD developers conference June 26-28, and ship the upgrade to customers later this summer or in the fall.osoft last month, we’d have a good history lesson to tell here. Sadly, there is always going to be something that breaks.”

This article, Security pros cheer hint of hands-off updates in Windows Blue, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

 

KartikSecurity pros cheer hint of hands-off updates in Windows Blue
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