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World Backup Day – Are You Prepared?

March 31st is World Backup Day. This initiative, which started in 2011, aims to remind businesses and consumers of the importance of regular data backup.

Without adequate backup, businesses are at serious risk of financial and commercial loss. A 2017 survey by data protection firm, Storagecraft, found that IT professionals are most concerned about threats from ransomware and data held on mobile devices.

The survey also found that three areas represented risks to data security – hardware and system failure, human error, and viruses and malware. Mobile data is a high risk area with one industry estimate putting the value of data on a smartphone at $14,000.

Data loss is an increasing threat to the business as volumes grow and data becomes integral to marketing and customer service initiatives, as well as operational efficiency. Industry statistics indicate that 40 percent of businesses cease operations within one year of a critical IT failure. And, high profile data breaches can lead to heavy financial penalties and loss of customer confidence.

Move Backup to the Cloud

The challenge to IT teams is to protect that data. But, that’s no easy task when most enterprises anticipate 50 times data growth, according to Oracle. Backup is therefore an integral element of a data protection program and a business continuity strategy.

Some experts recommend keeping three copies of data, with at least one held offsite. That makes the cloud an important location for backup. Cloud backup removes the risk of data loss from problems such as fire, flood or power failure that could damage onsite backup systems. And data is easily accessible from the cloud by users on site, working remotely or working in temporary disaster recovery sites.

For cloud backup to be effective, the service provider must meet stringent security and privacy standards, particularly for data that is subject to industry regulation. Secure, reliable network connections are also essential to protect data in transit and ensure backup data is easily and quickly accessible.

Reduce the Backup Burden with Managed Services

For data held onsite, backup and storage management can be a time-consuming task. IT staff must ensure that all data, including data held by mobile users and remote workers is backed up regularly. They also need to ensure that the growing volumes of data do not lead to unnecessary storage of data that has no value.

The growing adoption of managed IT services can relieve IT teams of that burden. Experienced professionals take responsibility for monitoring and managing the performance and security of storage systems, servers and networks.

As part of the service level agreement, the service provider should carry out regular backup and security checks. Reputable managed service providers take a proactive approach to IT management, reducing the risk of data loss from unexpected system or network failures.

Implement a Data Protection Policy

Regular backup should be part of a wider data protection strategy that incorporates stringent policies on data access, storage and use. While implementing data backup and protection measures may put an additional burden on IT budgets, the cost is small in comparison to the potential cost of ransomware or regulatory fines.

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Body worn camera (BWC) has become more than just a tool that provides accountability. It has transcended the position of being just a technology that delivers hard, unbiased evidence. Police body cam has proven to be effective in reducing the number of heated incidents between civilians and the police. As technology marches forward, the magnitude of generated data for surveillance and evidence collection is increasing in accelerated progression.

BodycamData and Associated Complications:

The body cam data explosion is rising steadily with no decrease in momentum anytime soon. One of the major problems associated with first generation bodycam is the amount of data generated and hidden costs. Organizations like the police department have inconsistent demand for data which might rise and fall based on the likelihood of incidents where the police force is expected to intervene. In such cases it is not feasible to use traditional data centre environments like the ones used by corporations. That is where cloud technology comes into play. With its high scalability and need for lesser resources it becomes a perfect platform for handling bodycam’s inconsistent data generation.

Beyond Evidence:

Bodycams have long been looked upon as a tool to heal the police-community relationship with its accountability factor. By providing evidence and by acting as an eye that watches over as the events unfold, bodycam deters any unwanted confrontations from happening. Typically the bodycam records happenings from the POV of the police officer which is later analyzed for investigation and also used as evidence. With the recent rise in terror attacks and changing global dynamic, it has become prudent to analyze and report on crime patterns for which footage from bodycam is proven to have helped more than any other surveillance technology. All that being said, the need of the hour demands more than just the culmination of evidence. Real time investigation is now possible with second generation bodycams.

Real Time Investigation:

First generation bodycams come up with problems such as hidden costs and complications associated with data storage. 1st gen Bodycams uploads data via WI-FI or through docking mode which is later used to find what went wrong where,but what if the situation can be controlled as it unfolded? Second generation Bodycams streams the video live to the situation room, so if any rise in tension is identified, immediate resolution can be implemented and the situation can be contained. 2nd gen bodycams are easy to implement and act as a primary resource in bringing real time investigation to reality. With the help of cloud storage, gen-2 bodycams provide unlimited storage and which also can be controlled by the officer’s mobile phone. From being a tool that helped analyze situations bodycam has transcended to a place where it enhanced the surveillance landscape and helps prevent crimes by extending the reach of the police force to unprecedented levels.

Cloud Tech Services along with its partners Verizon Wireless and Virtual Labs offers best of the breed Gen2 body cam solutions and generation two body worn camera for free with an updated replacement every 10-12 months.

Hybrid cloud is the perfect on-premise cloud environment that offers the combined benefits of both the private cloud and public cloud platform. The agility offered by Hybrid cloud allows companies to tackle varying levels of business requirements with ease.

Hybrid cloud optimizes performance in the following ways

  1. Scalability: The high scalability of Hybrid cloud environment removes the need for capital investment every time the demand rises momentarily. The company only needs to spend for the resources it consumes. The public cloud part of the hybrid cloud takes care of scalability whiles still making it viable to use the cloud infrastructure by using the cost effectiveness of a typical private cloud environment.
  2. Agility: Hybrid cloud is perfect for SMBs and government bodies like the police department where the demand for storage might suddenly spike and plummet. In such cases, the Hybrid cloud quickly adapts to the varying demands without pulling in much resource or expenditure.
  3. Security: The private cloud half of the Hybrid cloud is innately secure in nature owing to its localized administrative privileges. It is highly suitable for sensitive operations especially when it comes to storage and data handling for companies and organizations where the integrity and privacy of the data are of paramount importance.

Apart from the above mentioned process improvements offered by Hybrid cloud model it also provides cost effective solutions and maximizes savings for companies and organizations. Below are some of the ways in which Hybrid cloud plays a vital role in streamlining resource allocation

  • Frees IT staff: Compared to a traditional data centre environment Hybrid cloud provides value addition by freeing the IT staff from a major chunk of workload. Instead of setting up dedicated IT staff for maintenance with Hybrid cloud you can redirect the IT resources towards the core business of a company or primary objective of an organization.
  • Maintenance: A typical cloud environment takes care of itself without demanding much human intervention. Expenses related to constant up gradation of the data centre due to momentary spike in demand is scaled down.
  • Low Investment: Migrating data to a public cloud incurs huge amounts of investment in terms of money, skills and hardware. Hybrid cloud with its combined benefit of a Private cloud environment requires a relatively lower capital investment. The infrastructure and support cost is also low for a Hybrid cloud platform.

Hybrid cloud combines the best of both worlds and offers the perfect solutions for SMB’s and organizations with inconsistent storage preferences.

Hyperconvergence vastly enhances the IT infrastructure of a company by extricating IT staff and associated resources. Hyperconverged infrastructure is more than just about revamping the data centre.  It also offers high scalability without the need for constant intervention and evaluation by a dedicated team. IT staff and other extra resources usually allocated for the IT department can now be properly channelized to focus on the primary objective of the business. The amount of skill set required to manage the Hyperconverged infrastructure is typically lesser than what is required for a traditional data centre environment.

Increasing Efficiency:

In a traditional data centre environment departmentalisation of the IT section has led to inefficiency as dedicated staff and specialists must work separately and then corroborate the findings with others. This needlessly stretches the work-chain and slows down the overall process. This also leaves the infrastructure vulnerable to human errors.

In a Remote Office/ Branch Office environment a dedicated IT team is set up to extend the full organizational capabilities of the main office  to the various branch offices. Such an organization is simply not viable for small and medium sized businesses as it might end up being inefficient. With Hyperconverged infrastructure even SMB’s can reach the level of an enterprise.  The hardware requirement and support required is almost same for the entire hyperconverged ROBO environment. This eliminates the need for additional IT staff personnel for every branch office

Paring Down Cost and Complexity:

One of the major selling points of the Hyperconverged Infrastructure is how it simplifies the work-flow and complexity of a traditional data centre environment.

  • Low Maintenance: Hyperconvergence has high scalability which adapts based on a company’s varying organizational requirement. It takes care of itself without needing constant human intervention. High maintenance required for data centre hardware is not needed in an Hyperconverged Infrastructure environment
  • Reduced Power Requirement: By getting rid of servers, hard drives and associated hardware like WAN accelerators or SSD caches the electrical and cooling requirement can be effectively reduced. Reduction in power requirement compounds to large savings in the long run.
  • Total Cost of Ownership: The investment required to set up hardware for a data centre is higher which will be even more if we consider the maintenance charges and IT staff required to handle the maintenance

What It Means For the IT Staff:

Hyperconvergence does not mean redundancy for the IT team. This just eliminates a chunk of the traditional infrastructure tasks while also increasing capabilities. Statistics shows us that IT staff members constantly complain about being over worked. With Hyperconverged infrastructure IT staff and resources can finally be used to their maximum potential on the core objective of the business instead of being used to perform maintenance jobs.

It is the perfect time to reassess how departments select law enforcement video capture suppliers, on the heels of Houston shutting down further implementation of the largest body-cam implementation in the United States last month and the Amazon s3 outage that affected thousands of Taser customers.

Law enforcement video capture is a greenfield opportunity with thousands of opportunities for the IT community to attack.  We are seeing “hand to hand” combat in the courts after awards have been made as companies feel they were not given a fair shake.  This has delayed deployment in cities all over the country.

Many companies employ retired policemen with the “good old boy” sales approach, others just make it an extension of something the departments have already bought.  While some cities have been successful, others are struggling with long camera uploads and broken procedures that result in overtime or the inability to use the camera on another shift.

The fact is that technology waits for no person in its march to simplify, reduce form factors and lower prices.  Almost all the body cams and many of the car cameras are generation one products that were rushed to market to meet demand.  Programs that include “unlimited” storage soon find out that there might be only one copy of the data and in an outage, the data might not be available.  Video captured by a car or an officer cannot be aggregated on to one storage array as they are “separate accounts.”

So, how should a police department proceed in these turbulent times in America?  Look beyond the free trips and Oakley sunglasses and use common sense.  Departments should look to a two-year cycle for cameras and software and a three-year to five-year storage solution.  If you want to use a cloud solution make sure the data is in multiple data centers rather than just one.  If it is not, do not use the solution.

A best of breed solution could be a best of breed camera, software and storage.  It also can be a software subscription.  We will see how all this plays out.

According to Fast Company only 20% of police departments have deployed body cameras for their police departments.  Once a decision is made to add body cameras to car cameras, jail cameras, interview room cameras, and other cameras in the law enforcement environments, the competition has become almost hand to hand combat between different vendor.

Last month, a law suit between the selected vendor and the runner-up has caused a delay in implantation in Austin, Texas.  A judge in New York City has stopped deployment to officers in the New York Police Department.  Requests for proposals, required by law, are written for a single vendor specification, and even the budget is a perfect match to the monthly “all in one pricing.”

Once deployed most of the cameras go into a docking station.  It can take up to 30 minutes to upload the files to the cloud or local storage done “on-the-clock.”   No community can afford to waste time and money in this manner.

What is being forgotten in this intense competition is the safety and security of the actual data files created in the process. The Justice Department requires these files to be in a non-proprietary format.  They travel over public Wi-Fi and the public internet to public clouds.  It is no wonder that a leaked body cam file in a community in Texas showed up on YouTube.

So, what is the answer to these issues and how can communities meet their regulatory compliance issues when it comes to evidence preservation?

First, remember that body camera video files are only part of the story.  Monthly subscriptions do not allow aggregation of all law enforcement video.  No one needs “islands of storage.”

The safest storage is policy-based storage on premise or in remote data centers where the files can be accessed by VPN, not the public internet.  The amount of on premise storage purchased should be based upon regulatory requirements, and the overall storage needs for all the video files including evidence.  By balancing capital and operating costs (on premise storage and cloud storage the overall cost of storage per file goes down.

Every community needs a trusted advisor with an overall understanding of not only current technology but how costs can be minimized as storage files continue to grow and more and more analytics are being applied to solve crimes faster, reducing risk and costs to both the community and our law enforcement agencies.

Branch offices in remote locations often lack the full IT infrastructure capabilities of the main office which typically run on traditional datacenter platforms with separate servers, storage arrays and networking. Additionally, it is also not economically viable to follow conventional datacenter platforms considering the constrained space of a remote office and its limited power requirements. It is highly inefficient and expensive to manage a branch using on-site IT expertise since maintaining different levels of IT infrastructure requires special training which when compounded across multiple branch offices drastically slows down the intended pace of your typical work-flow. ROBO solutions aims to bring down the massive amounts of IT resources needed and thereby streamlines the functionality of the enterprise.

Challenges Faced in ROBO Environments:

  • Needs dedicated technical staff for each branch office locations which makes it unaffordable for SMB’s who want to reach the enterprise level.
  • Legacy tools are inadequate in handling the vast amounts of data generated by each and every branch office
  • Complex management systems have to be drafted and set-up in order to maintain the unique data handling requirements of the individual branch offices
  • Branch offices often do not enjoy the full extent of data center services present in the main office or in any other single site companies
  • Big companies usually manage branch offices by using a couple of servers for individual locations to a full cluster with SAN which by itself is highly inefficient, it also struggles to fit the scale of SMB’s who try to branch out.

Elevating ROBO Performance with HCI Solutions:

Hyperconverged Infrastructure combines compute, storage, data backup and recovery into a highly efficient and scalable solution for ROBO environments, the combined benefits of which range from cost-effectiveness and improved efficiency to overall storage handling capability enhancement.  It becomes an organizational nightmare to run multiple different remote sites with a centralized IT infrastructure. HCI simplifies this structure by providing all the sites with identical administrative capabilities which consequently eliminates any and all need for on-site expertise.

Data Protection:

Data generated at a branch office is as crucial as the data generated in the main office. HCI solution can compress and deduplicate the data and manage it in its reduced from. With hybrid cloud this storage capability is even more enhanced without any need for WAN accelerators to regulate the data transfer. This kind of infrastructure also makes the need for on-site expertise redundant.

Enhanced Storage:

Solutions like Hybrid cloud which offers scalable storage solutions makes it easier to aggregate the storage capabilities of each nodes into a shared collective for better and enhanced performance. Such an infrastructure also meets the requirements of an individual site with its limited space and power footprint. This opens up possibilities for SMB’s who want to reach the enterprise level by giving them an economically viable solution by eliminating the need for individual servers in each branch office

Consistency in Performance:

HCI solutions enhanced with Hybrid cloud mirrors the IT resource proficiency of the main office to all its branch offices and also extends unique administrative authority to the individual sites. This helps maintain uniformity in performance and IT management.

 

In a rapidly changing IT environment, many businesses are struggling to keep up with technology and maintain their systems at peak efficiency.

IT staff spend most of their time on routine day-to-day support tasks, when they should be focusing on innovation and delivering new services to meet business objectives. In some cases, they do not have the skills or expertise to benefit from the technologies their competitors use.

To overcome those challenges, businesses are turning to managed service providers (MSPs) to bridge gaps and supplement their own resources. By working in partnership with MSPs, businesses can add value, drive down costs and improve the efficiency of their IT operations.

Meet Changing Skills Requirements

Internal IT teams have the skills and experience to manage their existing environments.  But, when businesses want to adopt new technologies or migrate to the cloud, the IT team may not have the necessary skills. MSPs can supplement the internal team with technicians who are highly skilled and qualified in the latest technologies.

By working with the internal team, the MSP specialists can speed up adoption and ensure a smooth transition to new technologies or new environments. In many cases, they can transfer skills and knowledge to the internal team, helping to improve internal resources.

Improve Efficiency

To manage IT systems, internal teams spend time on many routine day-to-day tasks. However, if the systems are not running at optimum efficiency, this could lead to reduced service levels or downtime.

MSPs are specialists in system management. They can take over the day-to-day running of IT systems, using best practice and round the clock monitoring to maintain efficiency and uptime.

Proactive monitoring means MSPs can identify and resolve problems before they impact the business, helping to maintain productivity and business continuity. Experienced MSP teams can also assess system performance and recommend improvements to improve efficiency even further.

Reduce Costs

Using an MSP to manage IT systems can reduce costs. MSPs charge a monthly fee for their services that simplifies budgeting. In many cases, this can be lower than the equivalent cost of hiring permanent staff. MSPs provide cover round the clock, so businesses do not have to pay overtime rates to permanent staff if they need to offer remote users 24×7 support.

Because MSPs run IT systems at optimum efficiency, they can also reduce infrastructure operational, energy and maintenance costs.

Scale with Business Growth

MSPs can provide essential support for growing businesses that may not be able to afford to hire additional permanent staff as their IT systems grow.

MSPs provide essential resources at an affordable rate, enabling businesses to use more of their budgets on infrastructure and applications. Using MSPs ensures that businesses have the right level of support to make effective use of their IT systems at each stage of growth.

Support Innovation

Using MSPs to handle day-to-day system management frees IT staff to focus on more strategic tasks. This is important for companies who want to innovate to improve their competitive advantage.

IT staff can develop new services to improve productivity and customer service or support development teams working on new products or business processes. MSPs can also supplement the IT team with project resources, helping them to complete key projects faster.

Add Value

By working in partnership with a managed service provider, businesses can transform IT from a cost center to a department that adds value to the business by improving costs, productivity and competitive advantage.

Hyperconvergence, as we discussed in an earlier blog, provides a highly scalable solution for data center infrastructure. It combines, computes, stores, network and virtualization resources in a single software-defined system.

That makes Hyperconvergence an effective solution for dealing with rapidly increasing volumes of data that create storage roadblocks and reduce the speed and efficiency of service delivery.

But, the benefits of Hyperconvergence are much wider and they create opportunities for both business and IT.

Creating the Agile Business

Scalability is a key benefit for both. For the IT team, it simplifies the problems of expansion. Hyperconverged Infrastructure comes as pre-configured, pre-integrated elements. To expand the infrastructure, IT simply has to buy and deploy more of the same elements. There’s no need to build surplus capacity or deploy the separate components that were required in legacy infrastructures.

The scalable infrastructure makes it easy to keep IT in step with business growth or to scale quickly to respond to new business threats or opportunities. That makes the business more agile, which is an important benefit in very competitive markets.

Fast service delivery is a key target for both business and IT, and Hyper-convergence delivers that benefit. Users expect to access data and applications quickly to maintain productivity and efficiency. With the increase in mobility, they also expect to be able to access services from any location.

Hyperconvergence simplifies the process of handling high volumes of user logins, reads and writes. It also improves uptime, ensuring high levels of service and improving user experience.  Business users can access the essential data and applications they need quickly and reliably, helping them make better decisions and complete projects and routine tasks faster.

Scalability and rapid access are essential requirements for businesses focused on innovation. Hyperconvergence helps IT teams to quickly scale the resources that product development teams need, while maintaining high levels of service to the rest of the business.

Supporting Remote Operations

Deploying a consistent infrastructure to remote locations can improve efficiency and business performance across a distributed organization. With Hyper-convergence, IT teams can deploy the same pre-configured, pre-defined infrastructure in all locations and manage the entire system centrally. This eliminates the need to duplicate IT resources at each site and reduces overall management costs.

Make Better Use of Data

Hyper-convergence gives organizations the ability to make better use of the data they hold and to adopt new services that are data-intensive. For example, increasing numbers of businesses are utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor and manage remote appliances.

The huge volume of data from the IoT could potentially overwhelm a legacy storage infrastructure. With Hyper-convergence, IT teams can dynamically scale their storage resources to meet the increasing demand.

Hyper-convergence also supports the scalable capacity needed for efficient long-term data storage, which is important for businesses that need to retain data for discovery, reference and compliance.

Benefits for Any Size Business

A Hyper-converged solution provides a cost-effective environment that enables IT teams to simplify infrastructure complexity and deliver the essential agility and scalability that business needs. Hyper-convergence is not just suitable for large enterprises, it can be used by small and medium businesses to manage their data effectively and compete with their larger rivals.

Storing and managing increasing volumes of data is a major challenge in every industry. Public authorities are no exception as police departments across the country are finding.

Around one-third of the country’s 18,000 state and local police departments have adopted body cameras as a way to provide evidence, reduce excessive force and reduce complaints. However, while initial equipment expenditure is high, departments find that the real long-term cost lies in data storage, and it’s growing.

Data Volumes Accelerating

Experts estimate that city department generate around 10,000 hours of video a week, and force with 1000 officers creates more than 300TB of data per month.  Retention periods vary in line with the nature of the crimes and local policies set by District Attorneys.

Experience indicates that two and a half years might become the average with longer retention periods for serious charges such as murder. That makes efficient data management an equally important part of the storage solution.

New Storage Solutions Needed

The growing volumes of data make local storage on CDs or servers inefficient. Police forces are turning to independent storage specialists for support. Cloud Tech Services and Dell-EMC offer a complete solution to not only medium and large police departments but, a shared solution for small police departments in a county jurisdiction.

While some departments looked to “by the officer monthly charges”  to reduce costs, many found they were exceeding their limit within the six months. It’s clear that a more flexible, efficient solution is needed.

Best Practice Essential

On-premise “scale-out storage” should be the primary destination for body cam data storage, but to reduce the long-term cost, it should be combined with a cloud provider such as AWS, Azure or Virtustream Storage Cloud.  The effect is to create CloudPool though automatic migration from tier to tier with automatic deletion based upon policy.

That means any solution must include processes and best practice for migration, management, and monitoring of data, together with guaranteed availability in line with local retention requirements.

Symposium Focuses on Body Cam Data Storage

The company has conducted a statewide survey of Texas law enforcement and IT professionals on how video files are managed, the average file generated by the department on a weekly basis, and the amount of time spent on file management. The survey information will be used to develop a comprehensive set of best practices and cost-cutting options as part of a turnkey solution.

Police departments will have an opportunity to find out more at a half-day Symposium on The Long-term Impact on Police Body Cam and Digital Storage on February 21, 2017, at the Marriott Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas.

The keynote address will be made by Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas and the event will include speakers from sponsors Dell-EMC and Cloud Tech Services Inc.

For more information on the Symposium please visit http://www.cloudtechservices.com/symposium