CxO Report

Viewpoint

Data at The Edge

With more and more critical data residing at the edge of the enterprise in remote or branch offices (ROBOs) and on client systems, the ability to reliably protect and quickly recover this data has become more critical to business continuity and end-user productivity.

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Vendor Highlight

Mobile Broadband Boost

As the demand for a smooth and seamless integration of Wi-Fi access becomes increasingly important part for the mobile broadband service, Ericsson has announced its 3GPP compliant Wi-Fi network access, control and management solutions.

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In my last article I highlighted the risks of online services to enterprises in terms of information security, redundancy and reliability. The part two of the article explores how next generation services can be used safely and how to minimise the risks associated with living in the cloud.

 

The overriding benefit of convenience and improved productivity and efficiency to the company outweighed the risks, As a result new cloud based applications and services are being developed to meet the demand.


Voice and Messaging Services

Using Skype, Gtalk and other services for business are incredibly reliable and convenient for both instant messaging and voice over Internet services. However, as an organisation you have no control over third parties that can be monitoring your calling activity. So, in order too mitigate this threat, run your own voice and messaging services in the cloud.

 

The easiest way to achieve this and to provide a like for like service as Skype, is to create your own Jabber XMPP server in the cloud. There are many to choose from with the most popular being “ejabberd” with Jabberd14 and Ignite Openfire following in second and third place. Like GoogleTalk or Skype, the XMPP server can also act as a SIP proxy to connect voice calls between users. Setting up a cloud based xmpp server is quite easy. Amazon provides a free cloud service for a year on either Windows or Linux. Simply sign up on the Amazon website.

My recommendation is to use Openfire, which in my opinion is the easiest to setup, well maintained and has a host of plugins available to improve functionality. Make sure you download the version which includes the JRE components otherwise you will be manually doing this yourself. Once you have have Openfire up and running, you now effectively have your own messaging and collaboration service, which can be accessed from anywhere and on any device.

Most importantly, all of the messaging data is yours. It is not sitting on a shared database somewhere. If you are really paranoid, you can encrypt the operating system, so even if the cloud provider makes a copy of the running machine instance, it will be very difficult indeed to retrieve any information.

Lastly, make sure that passwords are complex, most security vulnerabilities start from within the organisation, so enforce a password policy which changes frequently. Now you need to wean your users off public services and onto the new server, this is probably the most difficult part of the whole process.

Loss of Data

CRM systems are probably the most cloud virtualised systems today, The ability to mobilize the entire sales force on a global scale with centralized feedback on sales funnels is a massive benefit to the organisation. Access to CRM systems (and the system itself) has to be simple and flexible, or sales staff will just stop using it. Most CRM systems today have both mobile and desktop clients to update forecasts, contacts and orders.

However, what happens if the service provider goes down or worse a new type of cloud virus wipes out all of the running virtual machine appliances in the provider cloud. Sure, we expect that redundancy and resiliency is built into the cloud providers network, but in the event of an outage, what is the best way to get up and running. My recommendation is to use a second cloud provider as a backup. Make absolutely certain the organisation has no affiliation with the primary service provider.

Secondly, choose a CRM solution or product which supports snapshot replication of the database. MySQL is ideal in this regard and is used by most application solutions. Build an identical solution with the new cloud provider, but create a slave master relationship with the primary site.

 

Set the replication frequency to be two days behind the master, this way should a database disaster occur on a Friday which can't be recovered, you won't end up replicating the corrupt data across the cloud. If the master solution becomes completely unavailable, simply change the role of the slave and you are back in business.

Privacy

The search engines are the first place people go to for information the commercial search engines also collect your search queries to target advertising toward you. If your organization would like to avoid this sort of intrusion, you can disable cookies in your browser and use a search engine that does not store your search queries and target advertising. You can try www.duckduckgo.com

Using these steps can help protect your privacy, while still providing your users a quality of experience with the commercial services.

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