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Head in the Clouds
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Cloud is not only a game changer for giant companies like Netflix. Because of the huge variety of Cloud “As A Service” offerings, even small startup production companies can play in the same sandbox, without an equally epic capital expenditure. 

Cloud’s unique ability to allow you to pay on demand means that costs are only incurred while work is actually being executed. Plus, as the cloud infrastructure matures (and competition increases) prices are driven down, which is only good news for the consumer, especially in terms of budget for storage and bandwidth. Cloud is also reaching a wider audience with new technology now able to deliver to everything from smart TVs to phones, tablets, and computers.  

Every facet of the entertainment industry has benefited from the recent updates in cloud technology. Recently we attended the AVN Show in Las Vegas, and the new developments providing the ability to host thousands of webcams simultaneously has become extremely affordable, and more importantly profitable. Cloud based content delivery networks are more sophisticated and faster than ever, and available for a fraction of the price. Cloud has brought a quantum shift for the entertainment industry over the last 5 years, the next 5 will only bring more innovation.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 2017 in Review

As 2017 now fades into the history books, we’re reflecting on the best and worst advances (or rollbacks) in technology.

THE GOOD - Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN)
2017 brought the explosion of SD-WAN, an amazing technology that provides high availability, failover, optimized traffic and in some cases a replacement for expensive MPLS.  SD-WAN is an affordable tech option for small and medium sized companies providing benefits once only available on an enterprise class budget.

THE BAD - Ransomware and Cyber Hacking
The worldwide pervasiveness of hacking has continued to dominate the headlines. No one is safe, whether you are a person checking your email and getting ‘spear phished’ or the Pentagon or UK National Health Service disabled by state sponsored cyber terrorism. In 2017 there didn’t seem to be anywhere safe from cyber criminals. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care, so in 2018 we’re doubling down on our vigorous backup and security regimens. While you can never be 100% safe, you can put a plan in place to mitigate disaster.

THE GOOD – Cloud Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity
2017 was the year the cloud really took off! Many companies have invested in comprehensive backup programs, but have not addressed what to do when disaster strikes. The ability to spin up servers and production networks in minutes as opposed to days or weeks, is now a reality with cloud solutions, making disaster recovery a minor headache instead of a full blow migraine.

THE BAD – Disrespecting The Technology
Computer networks are an integral component of every business, and you need to make sure you’ve got the tech that can do the job properly. In 2017 we still found companies buying technology that is just not suitable for business needs. From trying to get by with residential routers, or computers bought off the shelf at Best Buy. You’ve got to have the right tech to keep your company running. In 2018 don’t risk your business because you thought you were saving money. Remember the old adage: you get what you pay for.

THE GOOD – Internet of Things (IoT)
If you loved sci-fi as a kid you’ve probably been stoked by the advances in the IoT over the last several years. From vehicles with connected technology that allows manufactures and drivers to know when they need to be serviced or provide directions to the nearby gas station when the tank is running low to paying your mortgage by voice on your digital home assistant. This year was the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the IoT can bring to businesses. In 2018 watch these connected goodies for even more exciting innovations. 

THE UGLY – Dismantling Net Neutrality
The big fight for the web in 2017 was certainly a low point. The current administration’s FCC has begun the process of removing the laws protecting Net Neutrality, paving the way for ISP’s to preference their own content and throttle competitors. With Net Neutrality rules in place you the consumer can load every website, app, video, .gif, etc., equally, regardless of where the content is hosted, or what its message is. Accessing Netflix is the same as sending a tweet. Without Net Neutrality there’s nothing to stop ISP’s from demanding premium prices for “premium” services like video streaming, or social media, or blocking content they disagree with entirely. The open internet is vital to small businesses, and freedom of speech so this threat is very unsettling. Here’s to hoping in 2018 congress can get behind a bipartisan effort to save the open internet.

What were the trends you were most fascinated by in 2017? Tweet us with your top hits and misses, and what you’re most anticipating in 2018.

It's Hard to Say Goodbye

Digital PBX phone systems: they sit in some dark, dusty closet ignored by everyone, because, like the Energizer bunny, they just keep going and going.  Nortel, Avaya, Mitel, Panasonic, all these are household names in the telephone world, and we really do take them for granted No matter how tried and true these brands may be, they’re also, like, so 20th century. 

Most of these systems are now at their end of life and end of manufacturer support, so you’re forced to rely on ‘the phone guy’ to keep them running. If repairs are needed, get ready to google, because you’re going to have to dig up some old parts on Ebay or Craigslist. Yes, PBX systems have been steadfast companions for years, but sometimes, you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Interestingly, when we talk to company executives they consider their phones a higher priority than email, or even internet. Yet so many companies are happy to cross their fingers and only hope that these old PBX systems will keep on running.  When we perform telecoms evaluations for businesses, we find that in most cases the cost of owning an old PBX is higher than investing in a new IP phone system! Not to mention, with PBX you’re stuck with a single point of failure: hoping your phone guy can find a spare part each time a repair is needed, & praying you don’t miss important calls during the downtime.

The technology of IP telephone systems has significantly advanced in the last several years, especially when it comes to cloud hosted PBX, which now brings high availability in addition to its other features (no upfront expenses, low operating costs, and easily scalable provisioning among a vast array of other bonuses). With all the bonuses of an IP system it’s time to put your old PBX out to pasture and bring your business into the 21st century.

Bigger and Better!

Mannassi IT Solutions is in the process of investigating opening a UK division. Only a few years ago even just the thought of this would have been daunting! How to link offices, share data, and still make everything easy to operate was once almost inconceivable. Now, however, technology is readily available that can make your company’s IT infrastructure extendable and securely accessible to remote users and offices all over the world! US based telecom companies have expanded their footprint to link the USA to Europe, Asia and the wide world beyond. Cloud providers can now replicate data and applications to datacenters around the globe keeping data close to users no matter where they are and reduce the latency of opening multiple files and applications.  IP telephone systems can make 3 or 4-digit extension calls between offices across a continent as easy and seamless as those across the office. With all these technologies at our fingertips expanding is easier than ever!

If you’re ready to expand but all this still sounds a little daunting, we at Mannassi IT solutions have existing relationships with many of these international capable vendors, so we can help you navigate the big bad world of global expansion.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with our UK expansion! Plus all the tech news that's fit to tweet!

What’s a Hybrid Cloud & What Does it Want?

I’m sure by now you’ve caught wind of the cloud storage trend. Organizations big and small have been moving to the cloud or thinking about it for some time now, and it’s been touted as the wave of the future for data management. Certain more security concerned businesses, however, have been reluctant to move into this brave new world of storage. With their reluctance, new solutions have had to be found. Flash forward to now, and the hybrid cloud infrastructure is the talk of the town. But what the heck is it?

Contrary to the name, it is not some half chicken half monkey monstrosity. Hybrid cloud really just refers to the process of using multiple clouds all connected to your data center. Instead of having only one option for cloud storage you have several, and their use depends on the type of data they’re meant to keep.

Using a hybrid cloud setup you’d be able to store your privileged data (your EPHI if you’re required to be HIPAA compliant for example) on a private cloud, while still being able to utilize the public cloud (like Amazon Web Services) and all its extended resources. Because these multiple houses store varying levels of protected data your exposure threat is minimal; the most sensitive information is stored privately away from potentially prying eyes.  The tricky bit then becomes how to get them all to work together!

If you’ve been thinking about moving your storage into the cloud, or upgraded the cloud services you’re already using, reach out to us. We can help make the process much smoother.

As always, follow us on Twitter @MannassiIT or Facebook for daily updates.

Not All Clouds Have A Silver Lining

Currently, there is a big push for businesses to move some or all of the their IT infrastructure to the cloud.  However, there is one thing that tends to get overlooked in the planning; that is the connection between the corporate office and the cloud servers.  Regardless of whether you have gone to public cloud with AWS, a hybrid, or a private cloud, that internet connection is now the keystone to your productivity. 

Here are four things to consider when planning your switch to the cloud:

  1. Can the internet current internet connection have sufficient bandwidth to support this extra traffic, over and above regular internet browsing? You may also want to implement a policy to prevent Internet slow down, such as restricting March Madness streaming on ESPN.
  2. Does you ISP provide a service level agreement so that in the event of an outage the repair work is started immediately and guarantees a return to service? Most cable, FiOS, & DSL connections (like Spectrum, Cox, Frontier, U-verse, & the like), make only a best effort and give you no bill credit for extended down time.
  3. Do you have a secondary/redundant internet connection from a different ISP? This will provide a failover option in the event that the primary ISP goes down.  Depending on the firewall you have, you may be able to load balance traffic over both connections, giving you better performance.
  4. Speaking of firewalls, this too is a single point of failure, a second firewall is key to redundancy.  Automatic failover is a common option on most business and enterprise class firewalls.

It may seem like, on the surface, having to pay for two internet connections is an unnecessary expense, but remember the last time your own internet went down & how frustrated you were. Now multiply that frustration by a factor of 1000 for you & your staff as you are unable to get any work done because your cloud servers are unavailable! Make sure your backup plans have backups so you’ll be prepared for any emergency.

Check out our facebook page or follow us on twitter @MannassiIT for daily updates.

When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Go Virtual!

For the past several weeks we here at Mannassi IT Solutions have been working from a virtual office as we searched for an ideal new office space. The transition out of our physical space (and shortly our transition back into a new office) was made much easier by our virtual workstations. It was no problem for staff to set up their home offices in a matter of minutes!

As the President and owner of a small business, I am always looking to squeeze every dollar out of our IT investments.  Nothing seems to hurt more than hearing that workstations need to be upgraded because they do not have the CPU, RAM or storage to run the latest and greatest app.

So, rather than going out and buying a bunch on new systems that you hope will last 3 to 5 years, look at an alternative by going to virtual workstations.  Just like cloud servers, desktops can be hosted in the cloud as virtual systems, with the user in the office or remote accessing the virtual desktop with a small app that takes almost no resources, such as Window Remote Desktop Connection or VMware Horizon.

For all money-conscious CFO’s and small business owners out there, the benefits of a virtual office keep on giving, because virtual desktops can be spun up as demand rises, or if a user needs more memory to run an app then it can be added in minutes, rather than wasting hours, or days having to go out and acquire memory to be put into a physical computer. You can also utilize “Desktop as a Service” for virtual desktop infrastructure, which boasts a pay as you go model, so you’re only charged for what you use.

A recent Gallup study revealed that workers who spend at least some of the work hours remotely show higher productivity and satisfaction than those who only work from an office. If you want to drive up employee engagement, improve productivity, and attract the best new talent, all while saving on overhead costs consider a combination remote/on site schedule. Even if you opt to stay in-office only, virtual workstations can save you big on money and hassle.

Best,
Beverley Mannassi, President

As always, follow us on twitter @MannassiIT or on Facebook for regular updates.

Your Office is Where You Make it.
One of our offices is serving as a temporary moving ground zero.

One of our offices is serving as a temporary moving ground zero.

This week Mannassi IT Solutions is moving out of our location in Woodland Hills, CA.  Normally when a small company like us moves the challenge is making sure that staff can still work and the business can continue to operate smoothly. A key component to this is being able to easily access the company systems and data.  In our case the move will be seamless; our central file store is constantly replicated to a secondary location and staff can connect to it via VPN, our telephone system is in the cloud, and thus staff will all be able to work from home and still be able to get to data and receive and make calls as if they were sitting at their desks in the office. With very little brouhahawe now have a virtual office!  For us, this technology was primarily put in place to address any potential disasters and provide business continuity, but while moving is not exactly a disaster it is never an entirely pleasant process, and we’re glad to take some of the stress out of moving by being able to operate normally.

Mannassi IT Solutions has designed and built many solutions to provide companies with Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity, or to just help them move a little easier. Let us help you make your next move a breeze!

Follow us on twitter @MannassiIT for more moving updates!

Greatest Hits from Channel Partners Expo 2017: What We Learned

This past week we attended Channel Partner’s 2017 Conference at the Mandalay Bay Conference center in Las Vegas. This is the second year we have attended the show and we always get some great insights. This year it was apparent that the cloud telecom economy is booming, based on the increased attendance and exhibitors.

The conference and expo covers telecommunication and cloud technology, with this year’s focus being on Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN). This tech is set to be the new way to connect multiple office locations and organizations to their cloud infrastructure. Many of the vendors at the show are currently focusing on creating relationships with managed service providers, like Mannassi IT Solutions, to promote and sell their products to consumers. Having a managed service provider streamlines your technology needs, giving you a complete IT department at a lower cost than hiring someone in-house. It’s like having an IT guy on call just when you need them!

Other topics that came up included moving some or all a company’s IT infrastructure over to the Cloud. Cloud adoption has been in the news recently, with companies large and small making the switch to save space, money, and effort. Imagine being able to house everything you need without taking up any space!

Chat with us about the cloud on twitter, @MannassitIT.