Free Webinar: Full Failover and Failback in the Cloud

I am not a fan of backing up to the cloud at all. To me, it just makes more sense to create your own offsite disaster recovery program that YOU control and secure. But I am willing to be convinced that backing up to the cloud makes sense.

We received this add from Redmond Channel Partner for an upcoming webinar and thought we would pass it on:

Event Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM PDT

Jack Taugher, VP and Owner at AIR Technology Services, recently had a client experience a disaster scenario. Fortunately Jack had planned for the worst and the server was being backed up to the Doyenz cloud nightly, enabling him to perform a full failover and failback in the cloud.

Here, unfiltered, are Jack’s words:

“If it wasn’t for Doyenz, they would have been s**t-outta-luck. Their local external backup drive that Doyenz monitors and sends up and off-site, failed too. You were the ONLY copy of backup they had.”

Jack will discuss recovering his client’s production environment in the cloud with Doyenz and why it is a core offering for his business. Jack will be joined by Eric Webster, Chief Revenue Officer at Doyenz, who will discuss how Doyenz partners are profiting from this unique offering. Register today!

Why the Cloud is a Security Nightmare

And why you will embrace it

Many large software companies are offering “Cloud” services now. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are just a few of the big name ones. The benefits are obvious, lower IT costs, access to more apps, improved availability and disaster recovery. But just how secure is cloud computing?

When you host your own network, you know the security policies and procedures you use to protect your data. But what about trusting someone else with your mission critical data? Is it a good idea?

A Harris Poll from last year showed that many Americans do not trust the Cloud:

“One of the main issues people have with cloud computing is security. Four in five online Americans (81 percent) agree that they are concerned about securing the service. Only one-quarter (25 percent) say they would trust this service for files with personal information, while three in five (62 percent) would not. Over half (58 perent) disagree with the concept that files stored online are safer than files stored locally on a hard drive and 57 percent of online Americans would not trust that their files are safe online.”

In a Poll of about 14,000 last month when asked “Would you trust an online hard drive?” over 88% said no.

And then there have been data breaches. The large software companies have been under constant barrage by hackers and the hackers have been successful. Google, Yahoo and many other companies were targeted in “Operation Aurora”.  

During the attack hackers stole a program from Google that controls access to most of their programs:

The stolen password system was called Gaia, a reference to the Greek goddess of earth, according to the Times. Besides e-mail, Gaia also governed access to the online services that Google sells to businesses, government agencies and schools.

It just makes sense that with companies moving to the cloud, that hackers will focus more of their attention to attacking it. And if they can compromise cloud based systems, chances are they will have access to the data of multiple corporations instead of just one.

And hackers will leverage the power of the cloud themselves to attack government and enterprise encrypted systems. Recently, it was shown that WPA encryption could be cracked using the computing power of the cloud.

Hackers have been successful in attacking the cloud. In May of last year, the Treasury Department shut down 4 cloud hosted sites, “The hosting company used by BEP had an intrusion and as a result of that intrusion, numerous websites (BEP and non-BEP) were affected.

And just recently a Chinese Trojan was detected that disables cloud based anti-virus.

With all of these concerns about the cloud, why would so many companies be moving to embrace it?

Speed and price is the answer.

According to the recent IT World article titled “The straight talk on IT’s new directions”, the times are changing:

The simple truth is that the focus on the back office — IT’s traditional domain — is over. Companies are tired of paying for what they view as plumbing. Any consideration in the executive suite about the back office and infrastructure is all about making do and cost-cutting. Virtualization and private clouds are investments meant to accomplish this reduction — they’re not new gold mines to enrich IT’s importance.

As a majority of manufacturing jobs have left American shores for cheaper labor costs in China, the same mentality is true with IT. We have seen continuous cut backs across the nation in IT staffing. IT workers once considered mission critical are now considered to be overhead. The draw to the cloud is clear for executives, why keep full time hardware and staff onsite when you can just outsource for a fraction of the cost?

Also, with the cloud, you can have access to powerful systems that many companies could not afford otherwise. Scientists and engineers will enjoy the added power at their disposal. Last year a record was set in Mathematics by using the cloud. Even NASA has its own Cloud Computing platform.

There are great security risks in the cloud. But the speed and cost savings are just too tempting. Soon, cloud computing will be the norm and not the exception. So to borrow a quote from Naval history, with cloud computing it seems to be “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Windows Small Business Server Moving to the Cloud

Very interesting article in the October issue of Redmond Channel Partner magazine. It looks like the next version of Small Business Server will come in two distinct flavors.

Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard (SBS 7) will be the standard brick and mortar version of Small Business Server that many companies have come to know and love.

But Microsoft will also release Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (SBS “Aurora”) to offer a Cloud based solution to small businesses.

Aurora will handle Active Directory, print services and storage locally, while going to the cloud for everything else.

Traditionally, SBS server was for small businesses, ranging from 5 to 25 users. Microsoft realized that these companies usually do not have the time or resources to devote full time IT support to keep all of the features up and running.  Their solution, use the cloud.

Features like Exchange, SharePoint, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online will be available through the cloud. Also Microsoft is releasing a Software Development Kit to encourage third party vendors to create additional cloud applications for SBS users.

This will definitely be worth keeping an eye on. Microsoft does offer a beta of SBS Aurora. The only problem is that RCP Magazine reports that the beta requires 160 GB of hard drive space! That is pretty extreme when most virtual machines run in 5GB to 20 GB space.

I have never been a fan of Cloud Computing due to the security issues, but it will be interesting to see if Microsoft can pull off merging SBS and the cloud.

Try iCloud for Free

As many of you know, I am not a fan of Cloud computing. But I have to admit, this looks pretty good. This is iCloud by a company called Xcerion. It basically gives you a virtual desktop with file sharing, apps and collaboration capability all through your browser.

It comes with 3 GB of storage space, but for $39.99 you can upgrade to 100 GB of storage and it includes backup capability. I must admit, be able to access 100GB of storage through your iPhone could be handy.  

Now, because I do not like cloud solutions, here is my security spew. Use a complex password, do not put critical or sensitive files on cloud storage, keep your anti-virus and security patches up to date.

Why don’t I like cloud solutions? You have to remember that your data that you upload is no longer under your control in a cloud solution. You can verify the steps you take to secure your local network, but you can not verify the security steps that your cloud provider takes.They may not have the same security plans and policies that you use.

 Also, because they use computers themselves, they are susceptible to crashes, outages and viruses, just as you are. Recently the US treasury shut down 4 cloud hosted websites due to malware.

I would show you some live screen shots of the program in action, but when I tried to login to the service twice today this is what I saw:

I think this might be the cloud equivalent of the old Windows “Blue Screen of Death”.  🙂

If you are interested in cloud solutions, check it out, hopefully you will have better luck than I did.