Something that has been present in technology companies for a long time is the “me too” mentality. Company A will come up with an ingenius way to solve a problem that the public has had for a long time. They sell their solution like mad, their stock goes up, their brand becomes a household name, and life will be grand for them. Company B sees this and looks at it like a shortcut to success. They proclaim, “Me too!” and begin offering an almost identical product or solution, brand it a bit differently, and act like they’ve just completely changed what Company A created.
We see this in several industries, but the technology industry is currently the front runner for it, specifically when talking about the “Cloud.” Many companies are shouting, “Me too! I’ve got a cloud too!” and haven’t really defined within the company what “Cloud” means to them. That’s not what Data Cave wants to do.
We want to think differently about how we can best solve a common problem that enterprises and small businesses have. We are working on a solution that we think is pretty neat and well defined within our company. This stuff is our life, it’s our passion, and it’s going to be a great help to a large variety of businesses.
A bit of our secret sauce is no secret at all. Our engineers are working hard with OpenStack, creating one of the best, most stable, and fastest back ends in the industry today. Enormous companies like Netflix, Comcast (in their new X1 Platform), PayPal, and Cisco WebEx are utilizing OpenStack and believe it is the future to centralized computing. We agree, and we’re going to learn everything we can about it to bring it to our customers as part of a package that will work so well, you’ll not even know it’s there.
We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got cooking. We think you’re really going like it.
How to Achieve Security in a Data Center
In the “A” installment of our data center dictionary series, we will cover security and access control. Your most valuable IT assets need to be protected and kept behind several layers of diverse security measures. In a data center, we call these levels of protection access control.
What is Access Control?
An access control system is the method of authorization to enforce selective access to a secure location. There are different types of access control systems, but to securely shield your IT infrastructure, security measures should include physical access control and network security.
Data center security measures cover four different layers:
- External perimeter security
- Interior facility controls
- Room controls
- Server cabinet controls
External Perimeter Security
The perimeter security layer protects physical security of the building. A data center with strong access control should have barriers to deter unwanted vehicles and people from entering the property. The location should promote security.
- Does the data center have fences and landscaping to limit access to and visibility of the facility?
- Does the building have a single, limited entry point onto the property?
- Are there surveillance cameras outside the building to monitor activity?
- Is the facility at least 100 feet away from a main road?
- If you need colocation, is the facility at least 20 miles from your headquarters? If you need disaster recovery, is the data center at least 50 miles away?
- Is the facility safe for personnel at all hours of the day?
Internal Facility Controls
Internal security measures are equally as important as exterior security controls. These allow for protection from those who are able to enter the building.
- Are security cameras positioned at all access points around the facility to record activity?
- Does the facility require ID verification for entry?
- Do doors require key card scans for entry?
- Is there biometric scanning at various points?
- Are visitors without authorized access escorted at all times?
- Are critical components like power and network cabling out of reach? And air conditioners, Power Distribution Units and critical supporting infrastructure in secure maintenance areas?
The next layer of access control covers the rooms in which your servers are housed. At Data Cave, we abandoned the less secure, traditional, open floor layout for a more secure floor plan with data suites.
- Does the data center have one server room or several individual data suites with controlled access?
- Are there additional entry requirements for each server cage or room?
- Is access restricted to a specific group of people?
- Are there at least three different ways to authenticate access, like PIN number/password, key/card access, biometric scanner?
The most granular level of security is at the cabinet level. These security measures lock servers, provide protection within the server rooms, and minimize any potential inside threats, malicious, accidental, or otherwise.
- Is access to all server cabinets limited and restricted to authorized personnel?
- Are there reliable electronic locking systems in place?
- Is traffic to cages, suites and cabinets video recorded, logged and periodically reviewed?
Access Control at Data Cave
As a purpose-built, privately owned data center, Data Cave maintains state-of-the-art access control. We have a door controller system, an IP-based system of security cameras, required biometric hand scans, entrance and exit reporting, restricted suite access, and a visual “muster” screen to see who is present in the building at all times. Want to learn more about Data Cave’s security and access control? Read more here.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Data Center Dictionary series:
Over the past few weeks, we have covered some basics, or A, B, C’s, of data centers in our Data Center Dictionary series.
Access Control (coming soon)
Today, we’re going to cover Business Continuity.
What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity encompasses the activities required to keep your organization running during a period of displacement or interruption of normal operation. It provides a complete answer to the question, “What would you do in a crisis?”
Many confuse disaster recovery with business continuity. But the two differ. Disaster recovery focuses on the technology component of a crisis. How will your systems operate? What happens to your servers when the power goes out?
Conversely, business continuity covers all business functions. Where will your employees work when if you lose internet access or phones or worse yet, your facility is damaged by a storm or fire? How will you quickly resume operations?
Some companies have business continuity plans that are not complete. In fact, 23% of big companies do not include their entire supply chain in their business-continuity plan. An incomplete business continuity plan is detrimental to continued operations after a disaster.
Why is Business Continuity Important?
When a disaster occurs, typical business operations are disrupted, and this affects the bottom line through
- Lost revenues
- Additional expenses
- Costly inefficiencies
A business continuity plan could be the difference between life and death—of your business, not to mention leaving your staff unemployed or unpaid during and after a disaster. The Millersville University Center for Disaster Research and Education reported 40 percent of businesses that do not have a business continuity plan fail after a major disaster.
How to Create Your Business Continuity Plan
At a high level, we recommend using the 6 A’s of business continuity.
- Assess – conduct a basic risk assessment
- Analyze – itemize potential risks and scenarios
- Arrange – document your contingency plans for the scenarios you analyzed
- Act – put your plan into action
- Align – measure and review the plan on a regular basis
- Adjust – adapt the plan to bolster your BC plan
Contact Data Cave today to begin preparing your business continuity plan and learn more about our business continuity options.
As more and more of everyday life moves toward the internet, I find myself looking for ways to make my internet browser flow more smoothly. I have been back and forth with browsers, trying to choose the one I love the most. I have landed on Google Chrome for the time being. It isn’t quite as smooth as Safari on my Mac, but I can forgive that due to the expanse of other things it does for me.
There are a lot of reasons I currently enjoy Chrome: the way the tabs work, the syncing features, the speed, the consistency. But I’d like to focus on the extensions I use. I use several (probably no where near close to the number that a super user might) and they help me get the things done that I like to do on the internet.
I probably wouldn’t get along on the internet without Agile Software’s 1Password app. It’s a great password keeper, generator, and with the browser extension it will auto fill for you too! I use the extension to autofill things for me and to be able to generate passwords on the fly. It’s a sweet addition to the full app.
Adblock is an ad blocker extension that will block almost any ad on any website. It’s awesome because once you use it for a while, you forget it’s there. Then when you use someone’s computer that doesn’t have it you see all sorts of annoying adds that attempt to get your attention or distract you from the content you really want to see. Some websites request you turn it off to browse them, Hulu for example, because they make their money from advertisements. But living without this extension is something I just don’t want to do.
I use the bitly extension to shorten and track links I send out on the various social media avenues. Bitly is cool because it will keep track of other people shortening the same link and tell you about the overall clicks for that URL.
Buffer is like a bitly and social media poster in one. I can schedule tweets or statuses and track how well or poorly they do.
Chrome YouTube Downloader
This is a sweet extension. This puts a little box on a YouTube page that will let you download the video or just audio and keep it for your very own. I believe it only works on things that are free to the public, so you can grab all the freebies your heart desires. I use it when I find a live recording of a great song and want to stick it in my Dropbox and play it later in the car or something of that nature.
DuckDuckGo for Chrome
I don’t really utilize this as much as I should, but DuckDuckGo is a competitor to Google’s Search so I feel like I’m sticking it to the man when I have the extension installed in Google Chrome. DuckDuckGo supposedly doesn’t track a thing you do and you’d get better searches with more depth (outside of your bubble, they call it) when you use them for search.
An invaluable extension, FlashBlock blocks the flash plugin until you need it. Flash is very insecure so having it shutdown until you manually tell it to run is a great idea. You can also whitelist websites and even choose to use HTML5 in some cases to view your web video.
Foxy Proxy Standard
We use this to function as a quick proxy on/off for when we need to get into our work network from the outside world. It is very customizable and has proved very useful in doing exactly what we need it for.
Ghostery is awesome! It not only tells you what trackers a website has when you visit it, but it will also block those trackers. I used it for quite some time before I realized it could do the blocking thing. Now I LOVE it.
This extension rivals Safari’s “reader” function. It basically takes the content you’d like to read on the webpage and puts it in an article type format with no distraction around it.
Pocket was formally “Read it Later” and is basically a service to put links in a database for an app that you can later go to when you have time and read the articles you’ve saved. With the extension installed, “pocketing” something is just a click away.
Prowl is a Mac/iOS app that allows you to trigger various events and get notifications about certain things. I use the extension to send a link quickly from my desktop browser to my iPhone.
If you don’t know what this is, then I won’t take you down the rabbit hole. This is an enhancement for the website reddit.com.
The Camelizer extension has already paid for itself. Well, it was FREE, but it tells you on various shopping pages what the price of the item you’re viewing has been in the past. This allows you to see if it’s going to come back down or if it is a great time to buy it. It was VERY useful when the price of hard drives shot up after the floods in Asia.
When I see a cool font on a webpage I like to find out what it is to see if I am able to use it later on a Data Cave webpage or when I develop webpages for other clients. WhatFont’s extension allows me to click a button, mouse over a font, and it will tell me as much information as it can with a popup.
There are most of my extensions. I use some of them often and some I use rarely, but they have all proven useful at one point or another. I’m always looking for great ways to make my browsing the Internet more fun and safe and I’m always open to suggestions. I hope this at least gets one’s mind thinking outside the standard browser box and opens the mind to the world of browser extensions.
It’s usually common sense that liquids and electronics don’t mix. But no matter how careful we are and think it won’t happen to us, accidents do indeed happen, and they tend to happen to some (like myself) a little more often than we’d like.
I, Kara Manon, am a grade A klutz.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tripped, spilled things, sprained something, etc. I seem to, however, have amazingly good luck with electronics, despite my best efforts. A couple of months ago, I was folding laundry and found my brand new Fitbit still attached to my jeans. Jeans that had gone through both the washer and the dryer. Oops. While the Fitbit Ultra is (supposedly) nowhere near waterproof, it still worked like a charm! It’s a technological miracle.
You’ve seen me rave about my Macbook Pro which I am still completely in love with (as long as the rainbow pinwheel of death stays away). But last week, I had a close call. I was sitting in the NOC at Data Cave, chatting with my fellow colleagues about something important I’m sure, when near tragedy struck. I knocked my cup of coffee over, directly onto my Macbook keyboard. I reacted with, what I can only describe as cheetah-like speed, and lifted it up while turning it over to let the coffee pour off into a giant ominous puddle of coffee on my desk.
Patrick quickly grabbed some paper towels and started soaking it up while I stood there holding my dripping computer in the air. Finally, I was able to put it down and pat it off. I used a can of compressed air to blow the remaining coffee out from under my keys.
Guess what? Still works and there have been zero issues. In fact, my computer smells like a terrific roast of Green Mountain Southern Pecan coffee. But now, I promise, I will never have an open cup of anything near any sort of computer in the future because it isn’t possible that I will continue to remain that lucky.
So, what is the moral of the story?
1) Obviously, be careful! If you know your weaknesses – like my clumsiness – make precautions accordingly by using things like lids (sippy cups, if necessary) or keyboard covers.
2) Know your backup plan. If all of that coffee had leaked down into my hard drive, what would I have done? Honestly, I don’t know that I’m fully prepared for that (at least not mentally). Of course all of my documents are backed up through Data Cave’s offsite backup program which definitely keeps any hardware loss from being catastrophic. One perk of Apple products is that the App Store, which will tell me what apps I’ve downloaded/purchased saving time if I have to set up a new computer. I also use 1Password so I don’t have to worry about browser saved passwords.
But, any kind catastrophes has the potential to be detrimental. So.. think fast! What is your course of action if a cup of coffee ruins your computer? Or worse, if a storm floods your business? Are you backed up? Do you even know all the files and applications that are on your computers or servers? Maybe we should talk.
Feel free to share your almost disasters, full on catastrophes, and/or disaster recovery plans in the comments.
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