The Ever Evolving Cloud Industry

I have read numerous articles (one of which we linked on our social media channels last week) over the last few weeks from blog writers, industry analysts, and resellers discussing the pain points around moving to the cloud.  Each one of these articles admit that cloud computing was a major component in the future of enterprise functionality.  However, each also pointed out numerous issues which arise from moving to the cloud.

According to these articles, the only way to solve these issues was spending large amounts of a customer’s yearly budget.  Even after spending a large portion of your cloud budget with migration and transition to a cloud consumption model, many of these articles discussed the security gaps and management difficulties which occur when moving to the cloud.

While it’s true most vendors issues around security, compliance, management do exist; with NowCloud, they become a thing of the past.  NowCloud is a self-service, hybrid cloud model that makes transitions to the cloud painless and seamless.  Let’s take a look at some of features that NowCloud offers.

New Capabilities

Feature: One of the biggest reasons any enterprise moves to the cloud is to take advantage of new capabilities that cloud providers can offer.  The cloud can provide rapid scale, elastic workload, and geolocation benefits.  In addition, more advanced vendors can offer patching or compliance scans as a service.

Problem: Often times to take full advantage these features requires paying extra monthly costs to have a member of that cloud service provider’s team push the buttons and turn the dials for you.  Not only is extra cost a concern, but in addition you must complete these processes on the cloud provider’s schedule.

Solution: At NowCloud our offering is entirely self-service.  While we will absolutely provide as much ‘hand holding’ as required by your team, we encourage customers to take advantage of our self-service features.  Not only are the standard features like hyper scale and elasticity self-service, our more advanced features such as monitoring, autoscaling,  compliance , and Patching-as-a-Service/Vulnerability-as-a-Service can be done via a customer driven model as well.

Management (On Premise and off Premise)

Feature: Most cloud providers have a very in depth, multi-function cloud orchestrator that allows customers to create virtual machines, scale them both up and down, and manage your overall cloud workload environment.  Cloud infrastructure services, similar to your on premise datacenter environment, generate tons of data, events and alerts that need to be analyzed.

Problem: The issue that arises in many cases is customers are completely overwhelmed by having to manage their on premise and off premise cloud resources from separate interfaces.  In addition, customers must manage alerts and data from both.

Solution: NowCloud’s cloud orchestrator allows you to manage both on premise cloud and off premise cloud on the same pane of glass.  NowCloud truly offers a hybrid cloud management solution allowing customers the ability to create and scale virtual machines, receive and remedy alerts, and generate and analyze data all from a single, easy to use interface.

Security

Feature: On demand cloud services that allow you scale your virtual machines up or down at any moment sound wonderful.  However, the issue that many raise with any cloud provider is the security aspect.  Any CSP worth their salt will do everything within their power to keep their boundaries well defined and protected.

Problem: As a customer, most times you have no ability to test the security of your network beyond paying a high priced IT security provider to come in and do a costly network scan on your environment.  Most of these providers charge high fees to provide a scan of on premise equipment and also your cloud environment.  That is if their scanning software works in conjunction with the cloud service orchestrator your cloud provider uses.

Solution: NowCloud provides a true SecDevOps approach to each layer of our cloud platform.  Not only can you complete self-service security scans on your off premise cloud environment, but you can complete these scans on your local environment as well.  After the scan is complete you get real world data that is easy to interpret.  From here you can perform the necessary changes to make your cloud environment (both on premise and off) more secure.  Of course, our security industry experts are always at the ready to assist in every step of this process.

As the cloud industry continually changes and evolves over time, NowCloud will continue to aid our customers in ensuring their cloud experience is one that is not only easy to manage, but also fully secure and feature rich.  NowCloud is simply a better way to cloud.

  • Matt Shouse is a Solutions Engineer with NowCloud.  He has over 6 years of industry related experience

NowCloud Security provides Continous Compliance for GoldenEye and Petya

A little over a month after WannaCry affected hundreds of thousands of devices around the world, world-wide news is reporting that a new “massive ransomware campaign” that revolves around a member of the GoldenEye and WannaCry ransomware family is “currently unfolding worldwide.”

GoldenEye is particularly nasty because it’s more thorough than other ransomware. In addition to encrypting individual files, GoldenEye also encrypts NTFS structures and “has a specialized routine that forcefully crashes the computer to trigger a reboot.” There’s currently no workaround–if your device is affected by GoldenEye, you’ll either have to cough up the $300 ransom or bid farewell to that particular computer.

Don’t be caught this time around  wondering if your systems are vulnerable in a reactive manner.  We at NowCloud are continually tracking DSS, FBI, US-CERT, and other sources for the latest news on vulnerabilities which impact you.

Our latest video shows a quick glimpse into our new service, NowCloud Security which provides real-time and proactive assessment and remediation of your environment for the latest vulnerabilities.  In addition to providing you with an automated, continuous compliance approach for managing vulnerabilities, NowCloud maintains a up-to-date catalog of detection techniques, and remediation mechanisms, which provides you with instant visibility to impact to your organization.

Join us at our weekly webinars to learn how NowCloud is a better way to Cloud™

 

Nothing but Blue Skies for NowCloud in D.C.

NowCloud’s first customer expo was a huge success as we attended—and provided sponsorship at—the BMC Exchange Federal in Washington, D.C. last week, held at the Marriot Ward hotel. We were the talk of the conference as buzz surrounding NowCloud could be heard across the floor among industry professionals from around the country.

The BMC Exchange Federal saw over 400 attendees this year as speakers presented on industry topics relating to government modernization and innovation, and how BMC products can effect change.

Keynote speaker and BMC Senior Vice President Dan Streetman shared perspectives on the changing digital involvement of government and top initiatives.

Beyond the invaluable information offered by various speakers at the conference, we were able to make connections with a great mixture of business and technical industry leaders. The NowCloud team’s demonstration of our portal was particularly successful in garnering interest in our self-service compliance product and sec-ops.  Plus, the activity we generated online through live social media coverage and YouTube channel content sharing was beyond our anticipated results. What a great experience!

You can learn more about the topics covered at the BMC Exchange Federal here. And check out the BMC products and model.

If you’re interested in cloud management and want to learn how NowCloud can integrate BMC products to achieve your business goals, contact our sales team.

Why Those Affected by WannaCry need NowCloud

By now, the world has come to grips with what has been termed as the largest Cyber attack in history – the WannaCry Ransomware- affecting over 100 countries.

And by now, most have understood it was not a new attack or a novice way of hacking via an unknown zero-day vulnerability. Microsoft identified this vulnerability -and- patched it back in March 2017.

The news relates to how lacking most enterprises are in just-in-time vulnerability management.  Most, if not all, organizations have a cyclical rhythm of Identification and Remediation that spans weeks, if not months:

  • Analyze infrastructure for known vulnerabilities
  • Identify known vulnerabilities to Operations
  • Operations schedules approved patches for application on infrastructure
  • Scheduled changes and risk to systems have varying degrees of frequency of remediation.
  • Apply patches.

The net result is that it’s not that difficult to understand why WannaCry happened:  Most enterprises (SMBs too) go over a month or more without remediation against known (and patched) vulnerabilities.

Worst yet, most enterprises focus on Critical vulnerabilities, leaving the Moderate, Important, or even Low severity vulnerabilities outstanding due to short staff or lack of awareness.

Where can NowCloud Help?

Unlike traditional processes where Identification is air-gapped from Remediation, NowCloud provides you with a single self-service platform for vulnerability identification and remediation against On-Premise and Public Cloud workloads, leveraging Daily updated patches and vulnerability information for all public operating systems. We like to call this SecDevOps.Patching Options

Through a single portal, you can attach a Compliance Check against your workload, and non-intrusively we will tell you if your workload is vulnerable.

If vulnerable, you have the choice to apply the latest patches from the appropriate vendor, or enroll your system into a patch schedule of your liking. NowCloud will handle the remediation of any known vulnerability.

In world-wide crisis like WannaCry, NowCloud is the choice to provide your organization the necessary identification and remediation capability in an integrated platform.

Are you ready to prevent the next WannaCry attack?  We are, let us know you how we can help!  Contact a member of our sales team at sales@nowcloudtechnology.com.

North Central Cloud rebrands to NowCloud

In 2011 NCTC completed construction on a state of the art, secure, tier III data center.  Originally, the data center was developed to support the expansion of fiber throughout NCTC’s service footprint.  However, through the forward thinking of its leadership team, they quickly decided that the network, infrastructure, and execution team were already in place to provide data center and cloud services to business customers across the US.  In mid-2012, North Central Cloud was born.  It was an infrastructure as a service and disaster recovery as a solution that offered our local customers the ability to host virtual machines and backup data within the data center.  Along with standard IaaS and DRaaS services, the North Central Cloud would, like its parent company, keep customers at the center of its mindset.

As time marched on the landscape of the hosting environment changed significantly and the therefore the offering of North Central Cloud needed to be updated accordingly.  Along with updating the portfolio, the leadership of NCTC made the decision to expand the cloud sales staff to better serve existing customers and to expand the cloud footprint throughout the US.  With all of the changes, management made the choice to rebrand the cloud offering in its entirety.  Not only would this new brand adapt to the landscape, but it would itself change the landscape of cloud services.

North Central Cloud became NowCloud- a better way to cloud.  The decision for NowCloud to keep a customer centric view was made quickly.  With that in mind how could NowCloud’s portfolio provide a holistic approach to the cloud?  Three simple tenants were developed to answer that question- agility, mobility, and security.  It was from these three pillars that NowCloud began to build its portfolio.

NowCloud is now a self-service, web-scale Cloud Broker for customers who want to leverage:

  • Capacity-on-demand – choose from on-prem Hyper-Scale computing or Public Cloud at extremely competitive prices.
  • Compliance-as-a-Service – enable any and all of your workloads to be automatically assessed against DISA Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIG), CIS, SOX, PCXI, and HIPAA compliance standards, together with true SecDevOps approach to security.
  • Patching-as-a-Service – ability to patch Windows, Red Hat Linux, Oracle Linux, SuSe, AIX, HP-UX, or any other major operating system from a single, self-service platform.
  • Business Continuity – use NowCloud’s economic and all-inclusive backup strategies for off premise data protection or leverage our zero Recovery Point Objective (RPO) / near zero Recovery Time Objective (RTO) capability at a fraction of existing solutions.

All of this can be offered by NowCloud, because we operate in a Gigabit-certified WAN.  We can easily provide on-premises self-service cloud for workloads hosted in your data center or in ours.

As we complete this rebranding process, we invite you to join us with a no-cost 48 hour trial.  Simply use the promo code: NOWCLOUDBLOG for access.

Matt Shouse is a solutions engineer with NowCloud—a better way to cloud. He has been providing IT solutions to solve customer pain points for over 5 years.

10 reasons small and medium sized businesses should use the cloud

the cloud
Here it is – The famous Cloud

In early 2011, when I first moved from teaching at a small rural school in northern middle Tennessee to what is today the largest IT hardware provider in the world, I thought the cloud was one of the logos that popped up on my wife’s iTunes account.  Even after starting this new role as a datacenter specialist advising customers on servers, networking equipment, and advanced storage arrays, I still did not understand or even partially embrace the cloud as something that could be relevant to the industry at large.  However, as time marches on I have come to realize and embrace the fact that cloud computing is the future of business IT.  Thousands of large enterprise businesses already utilize cloud computing in some capacity.

As more and more companies embrace the cloud, I have been asked numerous times ‘why would a small or midsized company want (or need) to migrate to the cloud.’  While most of these customers are nervous about the security risks, worried about increasing cost or complexity, or simply trying to resist change, the question does need to be answered.  Instead of relying on additional hardware and software and then the additional IT resources to manage and secure them, organizations can take advantage of the cloud’s flexibility, scalability, security, availability, and reliability.

Some of the top cloud services being used by small and mid-sized business include:

  • Web, ecommerce, email, and application hosting
  • Backup and recovery services
  • Office tools, productivity, collaboration and communication solutions
  • Help desk and IT support, including security
  • Marketing and customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Financial management, such as record keeping and expense management
  • Operations and human resources
  • Project and product management

By utilizing infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a services (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS), small and mid-size businesses can take advantage of many of the benefits that large enterprise customers enjoy without the hefty price tag.  In most instances, for SMBs, moving to the cloud allows not only for significant time savings for existing IT resources, but also compelling cost savings.  This allows companies to refocus energy on new opportunities and reinvest the money saved into other initiatives, like helping more customers.

Let’s take a close look at 10 reasons any business (no matter the size) should consider moving to the cloud:

  1. Evening the playing field

Moving IT to the cloud allows even the smallest customer to compete with larger corporations.  The cloud utilizes a pay-as-you go plan which means you only use the resources you consume.  This allows you to increase or decrease speed and scale at the push of a button, without having to implement new hardware.

  1. Ability to work from anywhere

Business today is fully mobile.  With cloud access, customers and their teams do not have to be bound to working in one place and on one system.  You can easily access any pertinent data from anywhere securely utilizing cloud systems.  This means SMBs are free to hire remote workers without having to open a new location.

  1. Around the clock security

Most SMBs cannot afford to open a secure data center of their own.  This means many of their servers (and therefore their data) are kept in closets or under the secretary’s desk.  In addition, SMBs cannot often afford high-end firewalls to protect their sensitive data. Both examples provide for a significant security risk.  However, moving your IT to the cloud with the right company can increase the amount of security protecting your business data.

  1. Built-in redundancy

One of the worst things a business can go through is a system failure or data loss.  In fact, studies prove 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster.  Keeping data in the cloud provides for not only off-site disaster recovery ability, but also the ability to recover in the cloud.  For instance, say you have a production virtual machine in the cloud.  A shadow IT user at this company deletes a production virtual machine and the associated data with it. Using cloud recovery services, this company’s data is safe and secure at another datacenter.  It is fully ready to be restored back to full use.

  1. Reduced on-premise infrastructure needs

In addition to energy savings from not having to run servers on site, SMBs can also save office space needed to house the hardware.  Cloud compute customers can also save valuable man-power resources by cutting down time spent on software updates and general maintenance.  IT teams now will have the ability to focus on being proactive, working on projects that matter instead of constantly putting out fires.

  1. Turn capital expenses into operational expenses

Traditional datacenter hardware and software forces IT teams to budget up to a year before even receiving quotes to plan for future growth.  In addition, this route often makes a company invest tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars at one time.  With the on-demand compute resources in the cloud, the guesswork is fully removed from an IT budget.  Now IT managers can accurately predict exactly what they will spend.  With the pay-as-you-go model these expenditures become a monthly operational expense that can be decreased or increased depending on business needs.

  1. Limiting shadow IT

A major issue with a private on premise cloud is shadow IT.  This occurs when a user begins to consume costly datacenter assets without the knowledge or permission of a company’s technology leaders.  Virtual machines can consume, compute and store resources for months without being used or recognized by IT.  By moving to the cloud, IT can easily manage and maintain which virtual machines have been created and exist within their cloud dashboard.

  1. Improved collaboration and communication

Cloud services provide the ability for users to easily access information anywhere or anytime.  This increases productivity and enables collaboration, allowing teams in different locations to get things done.  Being able to easily share and collaborate in real time on files will increase yield.  In addition, web conferencing can bring teams closer together for important meetings and bring your customers closer to your team no matter where they physically are.

  1. Superior compliance monitoring and remediation

HIPAA, DISA, PCI, and SOX compliance are a constant hassle for almost every company that must regularly deal with them.  Ensuring your datacenter resources are compliant is very difficult.  High-end cloud compute vendors provide for up to the minute cloud compliance scans and remediation steps to ensure you are always fully compliant in the datacenter.  In addition, these vendors can often provide a summary of a compliance scan proving to the regulatory groups that you are fully complying with their standards.

  1. Automatic updates

There is nothing better than automatic software updates.  This feature now extends beyond software to hardware when you move your servers off site.  The effort to maintain and ensure they are up and running goes out the door as well.  Cloud service providers can now automatically update software, hardware, middleware, or any combination of these resources.  This frees up more time for your IT staff to ensure your business stays proactive and competitive.

Of course, just like anything else in the IT world there could be even more reasons to move to a cloud based infrastructure.  This list is in no way meant to be comprehensive.  However, no matter your reason to move to the cloud, Providers like NowCloud can help you get there by providing mobile, agile, and secure cloud-based solutions to solve customer pain points without adding complexity or overhead.

Matt Shouse is a solutions engineer with NowCloud—a better way to cloud. He has been providing IT solutions to solve customer pain points for over 5 years.