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The Rise of the Secure Internet Gateway

secure internet gateway

[img src=”/wp-content/uploads/sites/1706/2017/09/Secure-Internet-Gateway.jpg” class=”aligncenter”]

The world has changed, and how (and where) your employees work has also changed. Because of this, the IT landscape has evolved. Critical infrastructure, applications, and data are moving to the cloud, leveraging either public or private cloud infrastructure. Salesforce.com, Box, G Suite, Office 365, and other software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps, whether sanctioned by IT or not, are commonplace in companies of all sizes and industries — even the most highly regulated ones. Not only does this raise questions about how to protect where sensitive data is going and how it’s being used, but it also changes how employees get their work done.

So, how do you protect your network? Learn how to shift your security controls to the cloud in this white paper, The Rise of the Secure Internet Gateway, provided by our partner, Cisco.

Implementing a comprehensive and proactive security solution (whether from Cisco Umbrella or others provided by Vertikal6) can be the single most effective measure to mitigate the significant costs of remediating a data breach. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you, contact info@vertikal6.com today.

InfoSight is in a League of Its Own

IT solutions

By: David Wang, Director, Product Marketing, Nimble Storage

InfoSight has forever changed how storage infrastructure is managed. Before Nimble Storage, IT had the displeasure of spending countless hours dealing with unexpected problems and pulling out their hair talking to vendor support. And now with InfoSight, problems are predicted and prevented and support has been transformed into an experience customers actually like.

Competitors have seen the impact of our platform and “…have attempted to replicate the benefits”, as noted by IDC. But, our capabilities are unique and that has led IDC to recently write that InfoSight is “the industry-leading cloud-based predictive analytics platform”1 .

And what does being industry-leading do for you? With InfoSight, you get over 99.9999% measured availability from your storage infrastructure and automatic prediction and resolution to 86% of problems, including those outside of storage. So, if ensuring data reliably gets to your apps and spending less time managing storage are important to you, here are four key differences that separate InfoSight from the rest.

Architected for analytics

We consciously built predictive analytics into our architecture right from the start. This required taking a fundamentally different approach to data collection and analysis to expand the telemetry analyzed well beyond standard logs and metrics.

[img src=”/wp-content/uploads/sites/1706/2017/06/architect.png” class=”aligncenter”]

Our architecture embeds deep diagnostic sensors into every module of code in our operating system (NimbleOS). And, we’ve been adding sensors since the first line of code was written. Since we have connected our installed based in the cloud, InfoSight continuously correlates data from over 10,000 customers. So today, InfoSight collects and analyzes millions of sensor data points every second. That’s over 300 trillion pieces of data analyzed to date.

Our expansive network of globally connected systems and rich telemetry forms the foundation for InfoSight to deliver predictive insights about your environment. And, these are not just insights for storage.

Awareness beyond storage

Ensuring data reliably gets to your apps requires understanding and resolving all the issues that can impact the I/O path. More than half the issues that cause app disruptions are caused by factors outside of storage. So, vendors with visibility limited to their arrays are missing more than half the problems.

[img src=”/wp-content/uploads/sites/1706/2017/06/awareness.png” class=”aligncenter”]

InfoSight’s visibility spans your infrastructure stack to resolve non-storage issues too. Not only are we collecting data from the arrays, but we’re also collecting data across the stack and correlating it to provide a single source of truth from storage to the VMs. InfoSight’s analytics, in turn, help you rapidly root cause and even prevent problems that are outside of storage. Here are two examples:

  1. Performance Diagnostics: Everyone knows how hard it is to pinpoint performance bottlenecks. Because of the complexity in infrastructure, you have to spend time collecting and stitching log files and performance data from each layer just to understand what’s happening. InfoSight’s correlations tell you the primary factor causing the problem across the host, network and storage layers. It can also diagnose “noisy neighbor” VMs, misconfigurations in the infrastructure, and hosts that are not configured correctly. With InfoSight, complex performance issues get resolved in a fraction of the time.
  2. Problems You Don’t Ever See: InfoSight has over 800 predictive signatures that are constantly being monitored in every system – predicting and preventing issues. These signatures even include problems outside of storage that are not only difficult to pinpoint, but have big impact. For example, a customer experienced a 10X performance drop after updating to a new version of NimbleOS. InfoSight diagnosed that the hypervisor was sending the array an illegal iSCI response that caused excessive retries. We quickly developed a fix for the customer, then applied a signature pattern matching algorithm to see who else could be susceptible. InfoSight found over 600 systems and blacklisted that version of NimbleOS from each system’s update path, preventing them from experiencing the issue.

Clearly, InfoSight sees what others can’t and makes problems go away across the stack.

Applied data science and machine learning

At Nimble, data science isn’t an experiment. InfoSight applies advanced techniques to create statistically accurate predictions and insights into your environment. This enables InfoSight to take the guess work out of managing infrastructure from planning to expanding.

[img src=”/wp-content/uploads/sites/1706/2017/06/applieddata.png” class=”aligncenter”]

Planning for new infrastructure is a cinch because InfoSight’s app-centric modeling correctly sizes infrastructure needs based on your applications, users, and requirements. And, as new infrastructure is deployed, machine learning algorithms monitor performance and refine the models.

You won’t hit a ceiling with Nimble arrays. InfoSight accurately predicts capacity, performance and bandwidth needs. Our capacity forecasting models use autoregressive and Monte Carlo simulations taking into account irregular patterns that would appear unpredictable to untrained eyes. And, InfoSight applies an eigenvalue decomposition algorithm to automatically identify the primary cause of latency problems and predict the right solution.

InfoSight is constantly learning from the collective insights and experiences of the installed base. It’s learning I/O signatures and performance patterns, it’s learning from past support cases, and it’s learning to predict problematic behavior in your infrastructure. As it learns, the predictive algorithms continue improving and every system gets smarter and more reliable.

Prescriptive recommendations

Just showing charts and graphs isn’t enough anymore. It’s too difficult and takes too long trying to interpret them, so you end up with more questions than answers. For example, what if you see spikes when looking at a latency graph – should you be concerned? Are they indicative of a problem? If so, what’s causing them? And, how do you fix them?

[img src=”/wp-content/uploads/sites/1706/2017/06/spikes.png” class=”aligncenter”]

Instead of scratching your head, InfoSight delivers prescriptive, clear recommendations. For performance, InfoSight understands the underlining I/O signatures and the impact different workloads have on users. Applications are much more sensitive to latency when they are performing many random small-block vs large block operations. So, InfoSight predicts when performance is problematic and highlights those time periods in the UI. And based on the analytics, performance improvements include applying QoS controls on IOPS and throughput, optimizing resources, and upgrading components.

InfoSight constantly monitors your environment and automatically gives you recommendations to make every day easier. It can even tell you what bandwidth is required for replication and what volumes are not being protected based on factors like data change rate, compressibility, etc. And with proactive alerts and case automation, InfoSight automatically opens support cases and resolves them even before you know there’s an issue. As mentioned above, over 86% of issues are identified and resolved by InfoSight before you even know there is a problem.

Unique and getting even better

So, the next time you hear another vendor say “We can do what InfoSight does too”, just ask them how they compare across these four dimensions. InfoSight is in a league of its own and the business benefits are invaluable.

And now that Nimble Storage has joined HPE, it’ll be even harder to catch up to InfoSight. Just imagine the predictive insights that can come from having the largest database of infrastructure telemetry and connected systems in the industry. Stay tuned for the exciting future for InfoSight at HPE.

1 IDC, “HPE Hits a Home Run with the Acquisition of Midmarket Enterprise Storage Vendor Nimble Storage”

Author: David Wang

What are your password policies?

password policies blog

Your user accounts can be compromised due to weak and non-expiring passwords. If you don’t have a password policy, we recommend you implement one ASAP! The policy we choose can depend on the security requirements of the organization, however, our starting point for most companies is:

  • Minimum 8 characters
  • Must include an upper case letter, lower case letter, and a number
  • Change passwords every 90 days
  • Don’t allow the last four passwords to be used

As a guideline, recommendations for strong passwords are:

  • Use passphrases instead of passwords. For instance, use the first letter from each of the words in the phrase “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dogs!” – TqBfJoTlD! would be the passphrase.
  • Don’t use the word password, a child’s name, dates of birth or a pet’s name – or any other personally identifiable information.
  • Don’t use adjacent keyboard combinations, such as 123456 or qwerty
  • Don’t write passwords down or store them in a file on your computer or mobile device

Can Internal IT and an MSP Co-Exist?

internal IT services

There’s often a big misperception that Managed Service Providers (MSP) and Internal IT teams cannot co-exist. However, nothing could be further than the truth! Co-managed services, allows an MSP to work in tandem with an existing IT department. This collaborative arrangement allows your internal team to be freed up to work on high priority items while the MSP focuses on providing support, managing routine tasks, and filling in the gaps.

Internal IT can benefit in numerous ways from partnering with an MSP, such as: proactive management, remote monitoring, 24x7x365 end user help desk, 24/7 network operations center, disaster recovery/business continuity solutions and security audits/updates. A partnership with an MSP can be effective, versatile, stable, and extremely scalable — without significantly increasing the company’s IT budget.

Here are the top 6 benefits from a co-managed services relationship:

  1. Fresh Perspective: MSPs often offer a complimentary analysis and network assessment to evaluate the overall performance of your IT infrastructure. This fresh perspective can help identify the most prominent risk factors for your organization and give you ideas on how to mitigate this risk.
  2. A Renewed Focus on Core Value Offerings: Your internal IT team knows your business intimately, and can be used more strategically once they’re out of the dark hole of break-fix issues. An MSP gives Internal IT much needed focus and direction by bringing them out of the shadows to focus on your competitive advantage, which often times hinges on leveraging technology to provide better, cheaper, and faster products and /or services.
  3. Improved Productivity: Many firms have incredibly talented IT teams burdened by mundane and routine priorities. Offloading the routine daily IT tasks and issues, allows your Internal IT team to focus on large-scale deployments, optimizing the company’s infrastructure, and investigating new solutions.
  4. Fill the Skill Gap: It’s virtually impossible for your Internal IT team to be specialized in every aspect of IT, and often times, your internal team will not have the bandwidth to keep up with new information or security concerns. An MSP provides you with access to an entire team with skills in every area of IT.
  5. A Higher Focus on Security: Costly security breaches are often times a result of human error because Internal IT is stretched too thin. By overlooking vital security measures, such as security patches or anti-virus, it can leave your systems at risk. An MSP will eliminate much of the work overload that often leads to system or security vulnerabilities as well as provide preventative maintenance to rectify problems long before they happen.
  6. A Second Set of Eyes: With access to the MSP ticketing and monitoring system, and support from the 24/7 Network Operations Center, your Internal IT team can have a partner in identifying and addressing system issues before they disrupt business. Issues such as downtime-inducing hardware, software, and application failures are completely preventable if they are detected early and addressed promptly.

Email scams requesting a wire transfer on the rise

better online presence[img src=”/wp-content/uploads/sites/1706/2017/03/Vertikal6_BetterOnlinePresence-blogpost.jpg” class=”aligncenter”]

At Vertikal6, we’re seeing a recent rise in fake wire transfer requests via email. These requests are coming from an email address that may or may not be similar to the company requesting the wire transfer, however, they are changing the “Friendly From” name to a CEO, or someone you may have received a similar request from previously. Because these come from a legitimate email address, these cannot be stopped with technology, such as email spam filters.

Any request for a wire transfer should be followed by a voice confirmation – initiated by the person who received the request. If you get an email from your CEO (or anyone else!) asking for a wire transfer, pick up the phone and call them on a previously known phone number (not one supplied via the email) and confirm the wire transfer request.

Please forward this email to anyone in your organization handling finance to make them aware. If you have any questions, please contact us!

SOC 1 vs. SOC Type 1 – clarification on the different forms of SOC reporting

cloud computing solutions

In the modern business world, it has become common practice for organizations to outsource certain functions or business processes to third parties, rather than performing all processes “in-house.” When an organization decides to outsource a core business process to a third party, the risks of the service organization often times become the risk of the user entity. Therefore, now more than ever, it is important to understand the different forms of Service Organization Control Reports and the types of risk that are addressed by each one.

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Is it Time to Retire Your Aging Technology?

retire technology

It’s a question all organizations have to deal with: with new technology available, increasing support costs (or no support available), changing end-user demands, and problems adapting to today’s mobile world… when is it time to retire your aging technology?

We’re often amazed by the outdated technology that some organizations are relying on to run their business. Technology such as FoxPro, Access, Windows NT, LAN Manager, Windows XP, and more are still in use, simply because organizations choose to take the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Although it may be tempting to wait until hardware breaks or a piece of software becomes obsolete to think about how you’ll replace it, this approach often leads to unscheduled downtime and can seriously jeopardize your organization’s productivity.

Technology continues to move forward at a remarkable pace, so that most of the hardware and software on the market today will become useless in five years. This means there WILL come a point at which your existing technology just can’t accommodate your needs. Organizations need to ask themselves if their existing technology (this can include hardware, software, networks, systems, and more) can scale up to accommodate their planned growth or if it will eventually constrict their growth? Although there are no strict rules when it comes to replacing technology, in general, we tend to see replacements happen in the following timetables:

Desktop systems and servers: Every 3-4 years
Laptops, phones and other mobile devices: Every 2-3 years
Printers and networking equipment: 5+ years
Software and operating systems: Varies widely

The real question however, is, how is your productivity? Are your people productive and working at the rate they should be or is your technology slowing them down? We believe you should invest in the technology to keep your most expensive resources busy.

Remember, your organization is unique and so your technology decisions should also complement your unique growth strategy. When it comes to answering the question of replace and/or upgrading your technology, consider the following:

Support of existing technology. As applications age, they become increasingly expensive to support. Eventually, vendors will suspend support at some point in time.
Lack of internal knowledge. As a platform ages and employees leave your organization, internal knowledge can become increasingly scarce as software ages.
What is the REAL cost of your old technology? Your IT team may be spending much more time supporting a five-year-old server, and users often waste time waiting for software to load and function properly on their older computers.
Is your current technology delaying upgrades? At some point in time, some computer applications will not easily allow an upgrade.
Nobody knows the technology anymore? If you have a custom application in place that was developed a long time ago, you may not be able to find the programmers to work with the older technology when you need support.
Old software doesn’t talk to your new software? Obsolete company software often has strict coding features that can limit communication with newer technologies and programs.
Old technology may no longer be patched or updated by the manufacturer. This represents a very serious security risk for your organization; furthermore, if you have guidelines to follow such as PCI or HIPAA, they just won’t allow it.
Are you susceptible to cyber security threats? If your current firewall is not current generation, you are putting your organization at really at risk and don’t protect against attacks.

There are many factors to consider, but the most important question may be: Are you losing customers and revenue to your competitors because you aren’t embracing newer technology? In the end, new technology is focused on better/faster communication… which leads to better/faster decisions. If possible, make a technology review part of your annual strategic planning conversation. It can have a major impact on your budget and your organization’s overall success.

If you’d like a complimentary technology review or know you need to upgrade but don’t have the foundation to manage it, give us a call at 401-825-4401 or email us at info@vertikal6.com today!

Do You Have The Keys to Your IT Kingdom?

do you have the keys to your IT kingdom

At Vertikal6, one of our core competencies is to Collaborate Feverishly. This includes our relationship with our peers, partners and our clients. One way we do this is to provide our clients with the information to make strategic technology decisions including the state of their network and all the access credentials they need to run their technology and ultimately their business (including domain registrar, website hosting account, firewall, server e-mail, etc.). While we do administer these accounts for our clients, we believe they should always have a list of these credentials in case they ever need to access these functions themselves. We believe this is paramount to building trust!

Whether you are a current Vertikal6 client, work with another IT provider, or you have an internal IT team – make sure you have the access to administer your technology on your own (even if you choose not too)! In addition, it’s critical to have a process in place that reminds your IT person or IT provider to alert you when a password has been changed. Here is a quick checklist of credentials you should have:

  1. Email Hosting Provider Admin Access –A tenured team member should be an admin of your email-hosting provider. This person should be someone that you trust to willingly provide you with the username and password information if they decide to leave your company.
  2. Company Server and/or Domain Admin Access – Be sure you have access to a user name and password for your server and/or domain. This will allow you or a new IT provider to access and manage these components.
  3. Internet Connection Admin – If your Internet goes down or you decide to switch your provider; this allows you to take care of it yourself. Anytime you call your ISP, you will need to provide your login information.
  4. Wireless Devices Portal Login – Ensure all your wireless devices are joined to your network, which gives you the power to manage them (i.e. blocking someone who expectantly leaves the company).
  5. Firewall Login –Having this login information allows you to prevent unauthorized access to your system – both in and out.
  6. Domain Name Registrar Login – Your website domain address should be owned by you or your company – not your webmaster or IT provider. If you were to sell your company, this is an asset, a tangible good.
  7. Website Hosting Account Login – Usually your website company will manage this relationsihp, which allows them the accessibility and immediate connectivity if/when there is a problem. You should still have the login information for emergencies.

Having control of your logins and passwords not only provides you with the “keys to your IT kingdom”, but allows you to easily provide this information to new IT providers or new internal IT team members as changes happen. Ultimately, you have the right to your own technology and your IT team (internal and external) should support that.

Don’t Let The Grinch Steal Your Identity This Holiday

don't let the grinch steal your IT

8 Tips for Safe Online Shopping This Holiday Season

If you’re one of the 92% of shoppers who will go online to either research or purchase gifts this holiday season, we urge you to take the following precautions to ensure the Grinch doesn’t steal your personal information! Just as you would protect your wallet in a crowded brick and mortar store, remember to be as vigilant online.

  1. Look for the “S”: For shopping purposes and anything else that involves personal information, you need to be sure the website’s address starts with HTTPS. The S indicates a secure connection and any site you are purchasing items from should have it.
  2. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is: Watch out for emails from places you aren’t familiar with or that seem too good to be true. These emails can lead you to fake websites developed to steal your personal data. When in doubt – DON’T CLICK. If the deal is too good to pass up, type the website directly into your browser.
  3. Repeat after us: Public WiFi is not safe. It’s convenient, but you don’t know who’s on the network with you what they are doing, or what they’re capable of. They may just be waiting to steal credit card info. Shop from home or from another secure connection.
  4. Is your home network secure? Oftentimes people think because they are in the comfort of their own home that they are secure. However, if you have an openly accessible WiFi network it’s a serious security risk.
  5. Use a password manager. Beef up your security even more by using a password management app like LastPass, 1PassWord or Dashlane. These apps will allow you to sign in to websites with a single click, and can even generate random passwords that are incredibly secure.
  6. Stay up to date. We know they are a pain, but software and computer updates are essential to patching security holes and updating your virus definitions. Take some time before shopping to run all your updates and complete a full scan of your computer. Antivirus applications like Webroot, Avast, BitDefender and Home Free by OpenDNS are great options.
  7. Use an intermediary or stick with a single credit card. Sites like Paypal act as intermediaries to online vendors, keeping your information safe. If you don’t want to use Paypal, stick to using a single credit card to isolate your risk to one account.
  8. Lock your devices. Leaving your devices unlocked can expose your personal information to prying eyes, exposing your passwords, billing information and other sensitive data. Lock your devices with a password or code to keep your information secure.

Vertikal6 Donates Laptops and Services to Hope Clinic/Clinica Esperanza in Advance of Giving Tuesday

Clinica Esperanza partners

Encourages the local community to donate to the clinic on November 29th for #GivingTuesday

As demand for services and cost of medical supplies continues to increase, Vertikal6 is proud to have donated four new laptops and services in advance of Giving Tuesday to support Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, a free, volunteer-run clinic for the uninsured, located on 60 Valley Street in Providence.

The mission of Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic is to offer high quality medical care and preventive health services to adults living in Rhode Island who do not have health insurance or cannot afford to purchase health care. The clinic’s ability to provide services depends not only on health care professionals who donate their time but also on financial support from the public.

According to Dr. Annie De Groot, MD, Volunteer Medical Director at Hope Clinic/Clinica Esperanza, one of the main priority needs identified by the clinic was access to laptops for their electronic health record system. “Our outdated desktop computers were extremely slow and unreliable, making it virtually impossible for our medical volunteers to deliver care in a timely manner. We are extremely thankful to Vertikal6 for making it easier for our volunteers to deliver care”, DeGroot added.

The past year has been extremely busy for the clinic as the their demand for care has increased by 70% over last year. As a result, the clinic has added additional providers to the evening clinic and additional volunteers to the walk-in clinic. Anticipated costs for medical supplies have also risen to more than $15,000 in the current year. The supplies are used to help diagnose and treat Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol, which can then be treated with low costs medications, preventing future complications. Contributions to the clinic on #GivingTuesday will help cover these costs.

“We are delighted to support Dr. Annie De Groot and the volunteers at the clinic,” said Rick Norberg, CEO of Vertikal6. “Access to care is an extremely important topic, and this year, we’re hoping others will visit www.aplacetobehealthy.org on Giving Tuesday and support Hope Clinic/Clinica Esperanza and neighbor-to-neighbor healthcare.”

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

About Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic
Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic is a free, volunteer-run healthcare clinic in the Olneyville neighborhood in Providence’s West End. The clinic offers treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Additional services such as a women’s clinic, diabetes support groups, and healthy lifestyle/nutrition education are also available. The clinic only serves uninsured individuals who do not already have a primary care doctor. The walk-in clinic sees patients who have non-urgent health problems from noon to 6 p.m. everyday. Continuity of Care clinic takes place in the evenings of Tuesday, Thursday, and on Saturday mornings. To learn more about the clinic, volunteer opportunities, and other programs at Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, visit www.aplacetobehealthy.org.

About Vertikal6
Vertikal6 is a full service IT consultant serving the Greater New England area. They offer IT Outsourcing, Professional Services, Hosting Services and Software Development to help their clients maximize revenue and uptime. As one of Providence Business News’ (PBN) fastest growing and most innovative companies in 2014 and a PBN Best Places to Work in 2016, they understand the impact of hard work and efficiency. They work hard to partner with their clients to understand the specific needs of their company and employees. To learn more about Vertikal6, visit www.vertikal6.com.