How do you know when you have an effective Security Operations Center (SOC)?

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, six out of 10 SMB businesses that suffer a security breach go out of business after 6 months. How many of your customers have been victims of a security breach? If you are able to help save them, it means you are now deploying resources to reactively remediate the situation. Not really the best use of your resources. Or worse, their business closes which has an immediate impact to your bottom line.

NetEnrich Video Blog – How do you know when you have an effective SOC?

In our latest video blog, we talk about how an effective SOC should function. Network monitoring, threat detection and investigation are the usual priority tasks for any SOC, however for a SOC to be truly effective it needs to be proactive. To fight intrusions, it’s very important to have more eyes on the system, with stringent monitoring protocols.

Watch this video to learn more:

3 tips for ensuring UC migrations are a success

Today, the world is more connected and businesses have started embracing global operations. This has led to complications in terms of enhancing communication strategies, so that everyone is connected. Supply chains are increasingly becoming more dependent on intricate strategies, so to facilitate better business, collaboration is key and has to be effective. Unified communications help to connect and unify all your methods of communication, including phone, faxing, instant messages and email, among others.

NetEnrich Video Blog – 3 Tips for Ensuring UC Migrations are a Success

In our latest video blog we speak about the challenges you can face during migrating Unified Communication (UC) components and how you can ensure successful migrations across various components, technologies, and infrastructure. The important considerations include, comprehensive assessments of infrastructure and key drivers for migration, creation of clear deployment strategies, and multiple tests after migration.

Watch this video to learn more:

Three Steps to the Cloud

The first in a three-part series, by Javed Sikander, CTO Cloud Services, NetEnrich.

In the past 10 years at Microsoft, XtreamIT and now at NetEnrich, I have encountered many IT executives’ whose heart is in the right place with the cloud. They see cloud as the best way to reduce IT costs, improve customer service levels and modernize their IT infrastructure.

Yet many CIOs and IT directors struggle to efficiently move to the cloud due to the lack of a plan and roadmap. Many have engaged with large services providers, only to get meaningless high level analysis that is not actionable.

Companies that are successful at adopting the cloud and achieving ROI have taken a bottom-up approach. They first identify a small set of workloads that are low risk for cloud migration. Then, instead of engaging a large general purpose service integrator, they select a small, nimble cloud services provider with the skills, best practices and tools to efficiently migrate workloads to the public cloud.

NetEnrich is one such small but nimble cloud services provider. We work with companies who want to migrate workloads to the public cloud (e.g. Azure), and we perform three types of cloud services:

  1. Discovery and Cloud Assessment
  2. IaaS and PaaS Migration
  3. Management and Optimization

Discovery and Cloud Assessment

We often begin by running an assessment of a customer’s IT environment. It’s not unusual for enterprise CIOs to lack knowledge of statistics such as: the number of Windows or Linux VMs, which applications are dependent on which services, and which APIs have been exposed to business partners.

  • The first step is to discover the environment and assemble an inventory of all workloads and resources, using automated tools.
  • Next, we map the on-premises resources to the right-sized cloud resources. It’s important to collect detailed performance data and size the cloud resources accordingly.

Here is one mini-case study of a customer we helped through this process:

The client company lacked in-house resources and had a limited understanding of the complexity of migrating to Azure. As a result, IT was many steps behind on the cloud migration roadmap.

We worked with them to identify a migration-ready enterprise application, and performed a complete assessment of what it would take to move it to Azure. Using our automated discovery and Azure resource mapping tools, we provided an assessment report (download here) in just one week’s time. The report provided a plan for the application migration to Azure with detailed mapping of on-premises workloads to appropriate Azure resources. The plan also identified the code changes needed in the new PaaS model, and mapped the remote desktop environment into Azure.

Within weeks, the customer was on its way to realize a 52% ROI over three years, as compared to continuing with their on-premises environment.

In my next blog, I will share insights on Migration.

As always, for further help and expertise on Azure, talk to us, the Azure experts.

Cloud Migration – The Top FAQs

Businesses used to have entire rooms filled with bulky desktops and equally complicated enterprise applications. This has changed radically in the last few years, with the on-premise application development structure experiencing a downfall due to cloud technology adoption. The cloud enables users to develop and deploy applications at lower costs. Public clouds like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are gaining popularity as they offer easy scalability, provide cost effectiveness, and increase reliability.

Migration to the cloud can provide multiple benefits, however without a sound cloud strategy, the entire exercise may fall flat. It’s critical to identify and understand both the business and technical circumstances which may prevent migrating to the public cloud from being the ideal solution for your organization. What should you look out for? Which applications make the most sense to migrate? How should applications be modified to be cloud friendly? There are many questions and challenges involved in each phase of cloud migration. We’ve identified important frequently asked questions (FAQs) in these phases of migration to cloud, which can help you build a comprehensive and air-tight cloud migration strategy.

Assessment

When it comes to cloud services, not all of them are alike, and one size doesn’t fit all. Many businesses try to evaluate a preferred cloud environment before learning how that cloud matches their organization’s application portfolio, culture, and maturity. The top questions you should ask yourself and the service providers are:

  • Is THIS cloud right for you? There are numerous providers of cloud services, and not all of them fit your specific requirements. One may offer thousands of virtual servers in seconds, while another may deliver managed services. In such situations, you should consider what matters most to your organization and evaluate the few providers who match these requirements.
  • Where are the “gaps”? In most cases, once the first assessment of cloud providers is complete, you will receive a list of deficiencies or gaps for migration to be successful. It is very important to discuss these gaps with the provider and reach a common ground in terms of how these gaps will be closed in the near future or if there are any viable workarounds to these gaps.
  • What happens to your existing tools? Every business has an existing set of tools and processes, to which you’ve grown accustomed to. If you are not able to adapt these predefined tools to the cloud environments, ensure that you are familiar and comfortable with the toolsets supported by the cloud vendor.

Planning

So after the first round of assessment, you would’ve narrowed down your choices and picked a cloud provider. The next phase is planning the migration. So what are the important questions to consider?

  • What are the initial apps and/or workloads and/or environments? The first applications that you move to the cloud, are the ones which are not business critical. It is very important to complete a comprehensive inventory of your applications and indicate the ones that are the best fit, for a cloud environment.
  • How will you deploy updated code and configurations to the environment, and what internal processes have to change to leverage the new service? Your new cloud service may work with your existing system administration tools, or it may not. Modern configuration management tools like Chef or Ansible, include extensions which can work seamlessly with your cloud destination. Simulation of deployment and configuration enables you to identify these areas of improvement. Moreover, your documented procedures for change management, testing, and deployments, may not apply in the same way when using cloud services. It is imperative to make a thorough assessment to understand the changes that need to be made.
  • Have you completed a pilot that addresses these concerns? Migration without proper testing and evaluation can lead to many complications. To avoid such issues, set up applications physically in the target cloud and do trial runs. Familiarity with the interface, capabilities, and constraints can provide valuable hands-on expertise.

Migration

If your planning has been comprehensive, migration itself shouldn’t pose many challenges. A robust cloud strategy will provide you with the confidence to handle the unexpected, and complete migration seamlessly.

  • How are the apps and data being distributed to the cloud environment? There are multiple ways to get your applications and data up to a cloud location. For large data sets you can either compress the data and copy it to a staging location in the target cloud, before transferring it to the final destination or physically ship drives to the cloud provider. For smaller workloads, you can use copy commands and pass this data over your internet connection.
  • What are the security controls that are being put in place? During migration you may face issues with staging servers or temporary object storage repositories. Ensure that you’ve planned in advance and in detail, for data and access security.
  • How are the virtual machines or data migrated? Moving entire VMs is a common tactic to migrate an application to the cloud. However, there can be unexpected complications depending on how the VM was linked to the on-premises network, the domain, the types of drives being used, and more. Though the “lift and shift” of VMs often appears to be the easiest route to cloud, it can be more complicated than you expect. Your data may move to a database-as-a-service environment, or a self-managed database instance. It is crucial to understand the tools provided by the cloud service provider and the limitations which may exist in terms of data volume, or structure.

Validation

After completion of migration, the last phase of cloud adoption is to verify that all aspects of the applications are performing as expected.

 

  • Are the applications reachable? The various application services have to be checked to make sure that all the users can access them, and internal components are able to communicate without any errors.
  • Can your administrative tools access the cloud environment? This is the last opportunity to validate all the management tools to check if they can communicate with the cloud applications and monitor them without any issues.
  • Has all the data been migrated to the environment? Automation is a great tool to verify that both the transaction data and reference data have been transferred successfully to the cloud. If you have created complex data relationships, one failed migration can lead to unseen complications and cascading problems.

To summarize, organizations are successfully adopting cloud services and actively expanding their IT portfolio by migrating applications to an environment which is more agile. The best way to avoid frustrations with migrations is to diligently evaluate your organization’s readiness and goals, and prepare realistic answers to all the questions you may encounter.

As always, for further help and expertise on Azure, talk to us, the Azure experts.

DIGITAL DISRUPTION, CLOUD, AND THE END OF MASSIVE INTERNAL IT SYSTEMS

Recent surveys and evidence are confirming what many business leaders have been anticipating for a while now. Digital disruption has been the defining feature of the past decade and will continue to wreak havoc for those who are unprepared for it. According to a report in 2016 by the World Economic Forum, the digital revolution is already transforming companies and even entire industries. In this new world, large and successful companies that predate the digital revolution, can feel like they are being closed down from all sides, with hundreds of startups attacking traditional markets. CIOs, CTOs and IT managers in many companies are struggling to make this change.

Digital disruption and business models:

There are many companies leading the charge when it comes to digital disruption, the Ubers, Netflixes and the GEs, are winning new markets because they understand the potential of reinventing business models through the strategic and pervasive use of technology. These companies have implemented digital technologies across their business and have been successful in enhancing their revenue sources.

To deal with digital disruption head-on, companies need to move beyond viewing technology merely as a cost and seeing it as a critical enabler for revenue generation. This culture has to be sponsored by the leadership, and they have to encourage risk taking and innovation. This will lead to continuous improvement to enable new and leaner operating models, underpinned by agile business processes, connected platforms, analytics and collaboration capabilities to enhance the productivity of the firm.

Companies in traditional industries such as transportation, manufacturing, agriculture and hospitality are harnessing technology to bring forth new services to customers who want it. The biggest driver for this disruption is the advent of cloud technologies. The merging of cloud computing, mobile devices, agile development, social collaboration and sensor data are the main forces driving digital disruption across industries and businesses.

The Cloud gets bigger:

Cloud computing, for one, continues to grow every year. Forrester Research predicts the global cloud computing market will mushroom from $40.7 billion this year to a staggering $241 billion by 2020. This is a clear indicator of the fact that massive internal IT systems are waning and businesses are recognizing this paradigm shift.

To overcome digital disruption, organizations need to adjust their approach rapidly. By embracing cloud, and taking strategic decisions on moving key infrastructure and/or applications there, businesses are able to leverage some notable advantages, such as:

  • Better flexibility: Ability to respond faster to changing demand, advances in technology, new market opportunities and supply chain disruptions.
  • Consistent profits: Firms who rely on revenues to cover high-fixed costs, tend to experience swings in profits. This happens as the net income depends on utilization, so moving to cloud can eliminate such volatility in profits.
  • Increased cost savings: Cloud computing can transform the business model to being asset-light, which enables scaling without having to invest in additional capital.

The Opportunity:

Digital transformation may seem like an unstoppable force, but it does present some valuable opportunities. IT organizations are being asked to change in multiple ways, at an incredibly fast pace. Traditional IT workers, system administrators and network engineers have not been trained to disrupt business, but to maintain systems and uptime. This shift in culture needs to be inculcated at every organizational level, for it to be imbibed by the entire system and to show some effective results. Nowadays, IT departments can’t afford to spend their precious budgets on monitoring, updating and configuring systems. The focus is entirely on supporting the core business.

“Even technology companies like Apple are not managing IT, because they are not selling IT, but consumer devices,” says Raju Chekuri, president and CEO of NetEnrich. “If you’re going to internally manage IT, how much money do you have to spend? Every Fortune 500 company is looking at how to spend less on running IT.”

Your local or regional service provider can help you take the next steps towards overcoming digital disruption, and spending less on running IT. Contact us to find out about local or regional service providers in your area.

Top Three Pros & Cons of Azure

Cloud computing has completely changed the way the enterprise does its business. Agility and efficiency are now taken for granted as the cloud drives innovation at an extremely high rate. Creating and implementing a cloud strategy can help businesses accelerate their time to value.  Deciding what assets you want to migrate to the cloud should be your first step towards forming a cloud strategy. A common scenario is that of assessing a hybrid cloud strategy to make an informed decision regarding cloud migration.

Let’s take a look at some key benefits of Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft Azure offers many benefits such as increased scalability, reduced costs, more flexibility and creativity, faster time to market, and the ability to leverage Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Azure is a development and hosting platform with on-demand computing & infinite scalability.

Now let’s take a look at the top three pros of Azure:

  1. Core functionality takes priority – Azure has created a robust ecosystem which provides economies of scale, flexibility and predictable payment structures. It allows development teams to worry only about application functionality, and not about the underlying scale, failover, deployment, and other similar issues.
  2. Simultaneous development and deployment – Azure provides a comprehensive application hosting environment, as well as a full-scale development platform with advanced tools which are integrated into MS Visual Studio. This enables effortless development and testing.
  3. Optimal usability of resources – Azure supports all the latest Microsoft technologies. This means that you can pretty much reuse the majority of your code base, as well as the developer skills & training investments.

Are there many cons to Azure? Well, here are the top 3 challenges you can expect to face while dealing with Azure and some tips on how you can overcome them:

  1. Local bandwidth considerations

While migrating to an IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) platform like Azure, an often overlooked issue is that of how much bandwidth provisioning is required. This becomes imperative when a hybrid cloud solution is in use. In such cases, there may be a high amount of traffic running between locally hosted systems and their remote cloud elements. This brings up an interesting problem, as traffic which previously ran over high-speed, low-latency LAN will now begin to run over the WAN. This can create tremendous pressure on local bandwidth, and bottlenecks may emerge. To overcome this challenge, it’s suggested to consult an experienced Azure architecture specialist, who can effectively calculate the cost-benefit impact these bandwidth changes can create.

  1. Database migration issues

Enterprise applications, which are in use these days, require external databases in order to complete their functions. There are two options available here, the first being to migrate applications to Azure while hosting the database on-premise, or moving the database itself to Azure, as it has many benefits. The biggest challenge while doing so is to predict compatibility issues between Azure storage and the existing application storage. Incompatibilities emerge if the source database was created with now obsolete versions of database software. To overcome these challenges the services of database specialists is required, to convert the database without loss of fidelity or functions and provide the required changes to applications.

  1. Application monitoring and management

Irrespective of where your applications are hosted, you need to prepare to have the right processes in place in order to manage them effectively. Clarity regarding service level agreements and capacity planning strategy is also required before deployment to a production environment in the cloud. Key questions to answer are: How will customer billing work? Where will the data for application monitoring go? This particular challenge can be overcome with the help of the Azure SDK, which includes a diagnostic API. This helps to expose issues with event logs, crash dumps, and trace failures. By leveraging this API, it becomes easy to set up monitoring rules that can make monitoring and planning simpler.

 

As always, for further help and expertise on Azure, talk to us, the Azure experts.

3 Azure Migration Tips

Microsoft Azure is the cloud computing platform and infrastructure for building, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides SaaS, PaaS and IaaS services and supports multiple programming languages, tools and frameworks and third-party software and systems.

NetEnrich Video Blog – 3 Azure Migration Tips

In our latest video blog we talk about 3 simple tips which can help businesses considering migrating workloads or applications to Azure. It’s imperative to have a detailed plan, consider the security and governance implications, and to partner with a trusted MSP.

Watch this video to learn more:

Back to basics: Cloud Security

Cyber attacks and cloud data breaches have become rampant in recent times. Service providers & businesses are evaluating their security posture and investing in ways to better secure their data, applications, and infrastructure. In seconds, sensitive corporate and customer data can be compromised, held for ransom or lost forever.

NetEnrich Video Blog – Back to basics: Cloud Security

In our latest video blog we speak about the importance of cloud security and how you can manage it effectively. The key to better security, is to understand how the cloud is utilized by various data and applications. By viewing and managing all the devices on a regular basis, you can eliminate shadow IT and improve your security posture.

Watch this video to learn more:

Why do your customers need Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft announced in March 2016 that its public cloud platform, Azure, was generating around 120,000 new customers every month. This creates a huge opportunity for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), to include Azure services in their portfolio and increase business.

NetEnrich Video Blog – Why do your customers need Microsoft Azure?

In this video blog, we speak about the main reasons your customers need Microsoft Azure, & how you can help them. Cost benefits associated with cloud, increased flexibility, & scalable computing environments are the biggest advantages of embracing Azure.

Watch this video to learn more:

Partner for Success with NetEnrich

NetEnrich launched our partner program earlier this year, and already we have 100 partners in North America. These companies range from VARs and systems integrators to MSPs and cloud service providers (CSPs), serving small to enterprise customers. Partners are core to our future: we are forecasting two times growth in our partner base in 2017 – a conservative estimate.

Partners work with us because we are experts at delivering value through a highly-efficient, industrialized service factory approach to IT management. Our focus on automation in IT management cuts costs for everyone, and delivers more foolproof monitoring and management of critical IT infrastructure. Partners can grow margins by up to 40%, by working with NetEnrich.

We are experts in network operations management and cloud computing – especially Microsoft Azure. Last spring, we established a strategic partnership with Microsoft. We are helping Microsoft partners ramp up their cloud business for those customers which want to take the next step in IT innovation, but don’t know how to get started. Our white-labeled services help those partners migrate more customers faster to the cloud, while optimizing outcomes for the customer as well.

Security is another core focus for NetEnrich, and delivers unlimited upside potential for partners. The recent shocking revelations from Yahoo underscore, yet again, the criticality of protecting networks and databases from malicious hackers. Small and midsize businesses in particular incur a high risk of failure after a breach. Partners can grow their business and marketplace credibility by offering a suite of proven managed security services, as follows:

  • NetEnrich remotely assesses and monitors the customer’s security environment.
  • We provide automated application controls to protect data and systems.
  • Our monitoring and management platform works on top of the customer’s security infrastructure, with no need to replace tools which are already working well.
  • It’s about providing an extra layer defense, with minimal disruption at the customer site.

For any partner interested in working with us, we have one message: NetEnrich can be your wingman. You can be the hero with your customers, while we do all the work behind the scenes, thanks to the help of our 500 and growing expert engineers around the world. Our services can help a partner scale dramatically, delivering for example, three times the number of cloud migration assessments as they could do on their own.

But it doesn’t stop there. We want to help partners not only acquire, but retain customers. That is only possible through a continuing pipeline of training and education on new technologies and practices. Partner support will be a seminal focus for us next year: look for a January launch of a new online education tool. This tool, free for all NetEnrich partners, will help service providers understand how our solutions work and how to best communicate that value to customers with compelling marketing content. We also aim to deliver partners knowledge on how to maximize revenues from our offerings.

We go an extra step by offering each new partner company a Partner Success Manager. This NetEnrich employee will be dedicated to the partner’s business: always available for questions, concerns or guidelines for the duration of the relationship. Look for information in January on this revamped partner program, which includes the above benefits and more. We can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Learn more about our partner program here.

– Raju Chekuri , President and CEO of NetEnrich.