CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE. Protect your data, protect your business

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1 CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE Protect your data, protect your business

2 CONTENTS Introduction 3 Data The Life Blood of a Business 3 Sharing, Synchronising and Securing Data 4 Cloud-Based Solutions 5 The Role of the Managed Service Provider 6 Conclusion 6 About Us 7 02 CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE

3 INTRODUCTION There are many causes for business data loss: human error, theft, local disasters, hardware failure and more. Backing up important files enables businesses to protect against future data loss, but current solutions for data storage and data protection such as file servers and backup tape drives are often deemed unnecessarily expensive, unreliable and prone to human error. This can be even more challenging for small businesses, branch offices and small office / home office (SOHO) setups, where knowledgeable IT staff are typically in short supply and backup procedures are often non-existent. This whitepaper is designed to provide an overview of the technology, threats and possible solutions to help organisations start the process of better protecting their critical business information. Every responsible business leader should have at least a basic plan in place to help protect their business, staff and customers against data loss. The time and expense of creating even the most basic backup and recovery strategy is well worth the effort, as in these uncertain times, it pays to be prepared. DATA THE LIFE BLOOD OF A BUSINESS Digital data is growing faster than any other commodity and its value for businesses cannot be underestimated. From customers ordering products and services to systems connecting suppliers, critical software and the data that feeds it is vital for organisations of all shapes and sizes. For some organisations, the most critical items are unstructured data files, such as presentations, documents, and spreadsheets, that employees need to access and manipulate on a daily basis. Many of these files are stored on users workstations, desktops and laptops, while others are stored on departmental file servers. But wherever those files are stored, users must be able to access them at the office, at home, or on the road. Furthermore, users are no longer confined to using only workstations provisioned by the IT department. Many business encourage staff to bring your own device (BYOD) to work and access corporate data from smartphones, tablets, and even on the move from Internet browsers. Allowing users to access and manipulate files from multiple devices requires that files be synchronised between those devices. For example, a user may edit a document using his PC at the office, which then needs to be synchronised if the user opens the file on his tablet while at a customer site. Additionally, given the collaborative nature of many business processes, files must be available for access by multiple members of staff and even people outside the organisation, such as partners, suppliers or customers. As with any corporate data, file sharing must be carefully controlled. Who gets to see what file and when is an important decision that users must be able to make, and IT must help to enforce. However, while there is lots of value in sharing data and synchronising it between devices and users, there are also inherent security risks and regulatory requirements to consider. Even the smallest firms need to comply with the Data Protection Act and other regulatory frameworks, such as PCI compliance, which is mandated by the credit card companies. The underlying requirement of many of these regulations is that data should be kept in a secure fashion, especially data that can be linked to an individual or business, such as national insurance numbers, bank account details or health records. This may necessitate the need for encryption of data while stored, or even protecting data storing devices with encryption in case they are lost or stolen. 03 CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE

4 SHARING, SYNCHRONISING AND SECURING DATA There are lots of ways of storing and sharing files that offer different levels of reliability, flexibility, security and cost. The most common method of sharing files is via with the straightforward attachment of a file to an outgoing message. However, services have file size limits and there is no simple way to guarantee that the recipient has actually received the file other than checking. Although attachments appear to offer simplicity, the flow of s between groups of people all working on the same document can become incredibly complex as different versions of files start to appear and require version control. Furthermore, attachments can be easily forwarded both inside and outside of the company, so there is no simple way to control who gets to access the files and who shouldn t. Another method of sharing files is via specialised software packages that offer a central repository that keeps track of revisions made to files under its management. Users are assigned authorisation levels, which control whether they can view or edit specific files. These content management systems typically support a process for file locking, whereby users check out a file, modify it and eventually check in back into the system. Some solutions require a specialised software client, while others also support a web-based interface. Unfortunately, installing and administering these systems does requires a high degree of IT expertise, and users must be trained how to use the system. These solutions also require an upfront CAPEX for the hardware, server software and client access licences, which make them much better suited to larger IT department but an expensive option for SMBs. Alongside file synchronisation, many small businesses need a way of protecting key documents and files. Many firms rely on simple solutions, like removable hard disks, backup tapes and even simply copying files between multiple machines. However, all these solutions require regular interaction from staff to copy files, run backups or swap tapes into drives. Nevertheless, for adequate security against an issue like a fire, flood or theft, data needs to be kept off-site in a secure location. For small businesses with limited resources and IT staff, this backup process is time-consuming and often overlooked. In addition, verifying that data is safely backed up and can be easily recovered is cumbersome. Lastly, combining the functionality of file sharing with the disaster recovery process is a further challenge, especially as staff may have slightly different versions of critical files or work in different locations. For example, SMBs need to make sure those files of home workers are as protected as the data held in the office servers. 04 CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE

5 CLOUD-BASED SOLUTIONS Alongside the challenges of file sharing, collaboration, backup and disaster recovery, many firms are looking at new ways of protecting critical data without requiring lots of investment in complex in-house IT systems and staff. Many of these smaller organisations keen to avoid more CAPEX spending have instead turned to file sharing services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, that have recently emerged within the consumer space. These services typically use a public cloud to allow users to share files, such as photos and videos, with friends and family. A user that registers to the service can download an agent to each computing device, which creates a folder and when users either drop a file into that folder, or modify an existing one, it gets synchronised with a master copy in the cloud. These cloud-based file sharing services also support mobile environments and, by installing an app on smartphones or tablet computers, users can access the same documents they are sharing on the office PC. The same shared folder can also be accessed from a web browser anywhere. Users may point any web browser to the file sharing service website, log in with their username/password and the shared folder becomes visible through the web browser. Users can also mark specific files or folders as favourites, to synchronise them onto the mobile device for offline access. Consumer-grade file sharing solutions have proven popular but can create issues of their own for businesses, particularly if files need to be shared with third parties. The first is that these public services are very difficult to integrate with existing on-premise systems and do not have the security, audit or encryption systems that are mandated by best practice and regulators. Although fine for family photos, many of these public cloud-based file sharing utilities do not provide service guarantees or any additional technical support. In addition, many of these public file storage services do not have the capacity or technical interfaces to allow for highly automated large capacity backup of data, like customer details or invoicing systems. Alongside the technical limitations, if there is a problem, these public clouds don t have hotlines or local staff to help with data recovery and instead are only able to direct users to self-help websites, which are less than useful in the aftermath of major data loss. 05 CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE

6 THE ROLE OF THE MANAGED SERVICE PROVIDER As an alternative to relying on public file sharing and storage systems, businesses are instead using dedicated cloud hosting, provided and managed by a trusted service provider. These solutions require just a simple subscription fee per employee, which provides a generous capacity and unlimited transfers in a model similar to mobile phone contracts. These file-sharing solutions are housed in private cloud-based datacentres within the UK and are managed by expert teams. As part of a suite of managed services, they can benefit from other add-ons, such as disaster recovery and business continuity. In addition, security is typically addressed through encryption of the data at rest and while in transit with synchronisation speed dependent on available Internet bandwidth. Unlike public cloud services, these private alternatives can be delivered by a local IT service provider who can manage these solutions on behalf of the small business. As these trusted advisors often have a deep understanding of their clients IT systems, they can provide both impartial advice and also simple integration to ensure that SMBs are protecting their data and systems. CONCLUSION Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offering complete file collaboration, data backup and recovery solutions are becoming increasingly popular with SMBs across the UK. Instead of faceless public cloud solutions, these local IT firms manage services on behalf of clients, delivered from UK-based datacentres. They will provide all of the elements of the service, including installing local backup hardware, configuring Internet connections and setting-up and monitoring backup and recovery procedures. In the event of an issue, they can also act as a point-of-contact by phone or local site visit if needed to help recover vital files or restore critical applications. Service Level Agreements ensure businesses are guaranteed the type and level of service they receive, to meet their particular needs. A simple checklist can help businesses decide if a managed service provider offering a cloud-based storage solution suits the needs of a business. If you answer yes to any of the questions below, then it is definitely a solution that you should consider. Is reliable IT, including customer information, vital for your business? Do you regularly need to access files from more than one location? Do you have staff and/or partners who need to simultaneously work on the same critical document? Do you have any regulatory requirements to store and protect critical data, such as accounts, customer details or financial information? 06 CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE

7 ALVEA CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE The ALVEA Cloud Attached Storage service combines on-premise Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliances with cloud services to provide an integrated, all-in-one solution for shared storage, data protection and collaboration - avoiding the need for separate, more expensive solutions that are often difficult to manage. All of this means a high level of continuity for your business and increased protection for your company s data on servers, desktops and laptops. Time to recover business data from even a single laptop can result in significant cost. By combining clientless backup for local network desktops, PC agents for roaming laptop backup and Server Agents for application-aware server backup, ALVEA protects data where it resides. Local and cloud backup copies are optimised for speed and security using ALVEA s hybrid approach which provides quick access and recovery from local backup stored on the ALVEA appliance, whilst using the cloud for disaster recovery. While individual files may be accidentally erased or corrupted, the loss, theft or destruction of hardware may require the recovery of an entire system, which is where bare-metal backup and recovery comes in handy. Both backup methods are performed incrementally and are fully optimised for speed and bandwidth economy. ABOUT ALVEA SERVICES ALVEA Services has a partner community of both larger and smaller IT service providers across the UK. These are organisations that offer a wide range of solutions from multiple vendors and can provide a full consultancy and support service. ALVEA partners can also offer practical advice on how to protect critical business infrastructure based on a wide variety of budgets. ALVEA Services are able to grow or shrink as needed and allows systems to be managed by a trusted third party. One of the key advantages of the ALVEA Managed Services is the integrated nature of the constituent parts. By using the power of modern technology on premise appliances and a cloud ALVEA provides a unified portal to help businesses build an easy-to-manage solution with minimal capital outlay or technical expertise. As a business grows or needs change, the ALVEA portal adapts as required. The platform is designed to require little administration. All services are fully backed by stringent SLAs and are supported by experts based at the ALVEA Network Operations Centre, 24x7x365. ALVEA Services comply with ISO 27001, to ensure they meet security best practice, and the ISO 9001 standard to deliver quality management across its operations. 07 CLOUD ATTACHED STORAGE

8 THIS WHITE PAPER IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND MAY CONTAIN TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS AND TECHNICAL INACCURACIES. THE CONTENT IS PROVIDED AS IS, WITHOUT EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND. COMPUTERLINKS UK LTD Contact ALVEA w: e: t: +44 (0)

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