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Does your business have a storage strategy?

Secure and stable storage strategies for businesses

Even the smallest of businesses can generate a huge amount of data, and that data has to go somewhere.

Government regulations require businesses to keep and back up certain data for legal reasons; many firms choose to retain information like employee records, emails and instant messages; and every new version of a software application has to be stored somewhere. All that information must then be backed up to protect the business against viruses, ransomware and spyware that might infect their system and put a halt to trading. And that’s not even considering those firms that want to analyse their big data to further profits and business goals.

What are the options?

Despite the mission-critical status of all this data, many small and medium sized businesses lack an overarching storage strategy that can ensure the business keeps trading no matter what. There are a number of options, and the good news is the price-per-gigabyte of storage has never been cheaper – even outside the cloud.

Small and medium sized businesses can opt for:

  • Direct attached storage (DAS): Devices connected to PCs or servers, usually via USB. Good for information that’s frequently accessed.
  • Network attached storage (NAS): Devices that connect directly to the network and operate as a file server. Good for storing large files.
  • Cloud storage: Online storage that comes in public, private or hybrid configurations. Good for mobile access.
  • Offline media: Backing up data on to tape drives, DVDs or Blu-rays sounds a bit old-fashioned, but Google still backs up Gmail onto tape as a last resort and Facebook has its Blu-ray Cold Storage Data Center. Good for archiving.

How to choose your storage strategy

For most small and medium sized businesses, a combination of these storage solutions will make up a good strategy, but figuring out the ideal combination can be challenging. Small and medium-sized businesses need to analyse their storage needs closely, looking at which applications generate the most data, how quickly and from where most data needs to be accessed. They also need to assess how old the data is, if it’s being unnecessarily duplicated, and if it’s business related or operations related.

Mission-critical data, like operations-related software applications and the business website, is the most important regardless of the size of the company. Firms need to consider having at least two complete separate copies of this – with one offline – to ensure business continuity.

In the end, the budget and volume of data will help determine the combination of solutions an SMB requires. However, careful assessment of the data, the legal and regulatory ramifications, and business continuity are all essential for a secure and stable storage strategy.

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3 Things Your Mobile Employees Expect

You ask workers to travel for the company, to work far away from the office. In return, they quite reasonably ask for seamless workflow, because they’re working in a 24/7 world. That’s why they also need that long battery life. Possibly, they’re out of the office to wow clients. They can do that better with higher-quality displays. And it doesn’t hurt if the device looks good, whomever they’re meeting, because the appearance of your equipment says something about the quality of your organisation.

And if it could survive the odd bump, so much the better.

When it comes to buying your next work laptops, how can you give your out-of-office workforce an edge?

1. Touch technology for seamless device changes

According to Gartner, touch screens will be on one-third of all mobile PCs by 2018. Productivity is boosted when form and function are standardised across a full range of mobile devices.

And when you’re crammed into an airplane seat, being able to touch the screen could change everything. For the road warrior in the air, touch screens are less about fingers than elbows. What might sound trivial isn’t when you spend hours every week in cramped places.

2. Lighter high-performance materials

Whether your employees are carrying their laptops between meeting rooms or airports, they want them to be lightweight. Previously weight had been in a trade off with fragility. Today, there are plenty of laptops on the market that are lightweight and look good but are tough enough to withstand the wear and tear of the road (or the corridor).

One thing to look for when you’re specifying your next generation of laptops is carbon fibre. It’s high-strength and lightweight enough for NASA. And even glass is tougher these days, too, which is great, especially when paired with edge-to-edge display capabilities.

3. Wireless docking

It’s possible that one thing keeping workers out of the office and on the road was the thought of messing around with cables to dock their laptops when they get back to the office.

The latest in wireless docking technology will make coming back to the office seem like a treat. There’s a one-time set-up (isn’t there always?) but once it’s done, the user can wirelessly connect external displays, a keyboard, a mouse, speakers, and other peripherals to their laptop.

When it’s set up, all the user has to do is walk within range of the wireless dock on their desk and hey—presto.

Disconnecting is as simple as walking away. If only everything in business were that simple.

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The Familiar USB is Coming to an End

The USB ports we’ve come to know and love are coming to an end—and that’s a good thing, or a disaster, depending on who you listen to among industry pundits.

For most organisations, though, the move to USB Type C is going to be a good thing, because it will offer greater peripheral flexibility and functionality while ultimately reducing costs. The process of migration could be a bit complicated, but with a bit of planning you should be able to avoid the worst problems while keeping users and accountants happy.

IT professionals on the job for a long time remember this same sense of worry from years ago when the USB Type A port began replacing the RS-232 9-pin port and Centronics parallel ports that were the standard connectors between personal computers and peripherals for two decades. Even after USB connectors became common in the late 1990s, many users insisted on the bulky serial and parallel ports because of legacy device concerns and worries about compatibility and speed.

Ultimately, though, manufacturers and users adapted, and today parallel ports are unheard of and 9-pin serial ports are rare on both desktop and laptop workstations. Just as USB Type A simplified peripheral decisions by creating a unified standard for connecting devices, USB Type C promises to further simplify the market by creating a single connection standard for peripheral devices, displays, and power connections. To hear some experts, though, this standardisation will cause the fall of Western civilisation rather than a simplification in your device inventory.

The complication…

The complication is that there are multiple device connections that use the same physical connector—and not all of them are compatible. Here’s a secret, though: if you start buying equipment and peripherals now and make sure that you’re buying products with the most up-to-date version of USB Type C, you won’t have any problems. Issues occur when you try to incorporate older devices into a newer fleet without educating users and staff. Keep your fleet up to date and educate your users on the necessity of having any legacy devices checked out by the IT staff before being connected to a workstation and you won’t have any problems.

Newer laptops equipped with USB Type C will allow you to have:

  • Auxiliary batteries that can work for both laptops and mobile devices.
  • Printers, input devices, two-factor authentication scanners, and other peripherals that work across your entire hardware fleet.
  • External displays that can easily be re-deployed across every device you procure.
  • The days of having to keep separate peripheral inventories for each device type in your fleet are coming to an end, and it’s all courtesy of USB Type C.

You’ll ensure that your transition to the new peripheral connection is as smooth and cost-effective as possible if you follow three simple steps:

  • Buy the right computers.
  • Educate your users.
  • Make sure that legacy peripherals are kept to limited applications with careful use instructions.
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10 trends to watch for in 2017

The machines are rising. Artificial intelligence (AI) has proven it’ll be no fun at a party, having taken down the world’s best player at the difficult strategy game Go. If that makes you anxious, good news: virtual reality (VR) is being used by doctors to help patients with anxiety. We live in interesting times, so what’s going to be especially interesting to watch this year?

1. Security concerns increase

Well, duh, so let’s get this one out of the way quickly. The only novelty in this prediction is where the danger is coming from: increased reliance on IoT means more breaches of security and privacy.

2. AI and consumer experience

Even big players are only scratching the surface when it comes to using machine learning to improve customer service. Look for:

  • Much more personalised customer interaction
  • More social presence
  • Immediate answers to consumer queries

3. Better cross-browser compatibility

Less sexy than AI but fundamental, W3C (world wide web consortium) specification, and (maybe) better JavaScript libraries could see cross-browser compatibility issues become a thing of the past. Good news if your business does business online.

4. Increased VR activity

Who doesn’t want to be in VR when it’s new and shiny and has applications as far-ranging as therapy and gaming? Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have put a waterfall of money into VR, but it’s the startups you want to watch. Will VR be the cornerstone of the next Microsoft or Apple?

5. Mobile grows

By 2020, 70% of the world’s population will have a smartphone. If you’re still asking mobile browsers to pinch and squeeze, it’s time to act.

6. No more money for IT

You can watch the rise of AI and VR, but this might not be the year you get to invest in them. Spiceworks has surveyed the IT world and confirmed that IT budgets will be flat (or down) in 2017, and they’re not expecting to take on new employees, either.

7. Laptops eating desktops’ narrow lead

Consumers have long bought more laptops than desktops. Now, companies are budgeting more for laptops, bringing the budgets for both to par according to Spiceworks’ network data and surveys.

8. Windows 10 business adoption to go over 70%

Over 10 weeks in 2015, 11% of businesses organisations said yes to Microsoft’s offer of a free Windows 10 upgrade. By halfway through last year, 40% were onboard. The trend line suggests 73% of organisations will be using Windows 10 by July.

9. “Cloud first” strategies will drive adoption of Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 offers improved virtualisation features, better security, more advanced software-defined storage functionality, and better integration with popular cloud services. That will drive adoption, although it won’t be until Windows Server 2008 reaches end-of-life in 2020 that its successor will dominate.

10. Don’t hold your breath for OS upgrades

Flat budgets will mean delays in upgrading operating systems. More than half of businesses are running at least one copy of Windows XP somewhere, despite it reaching end-of-life in 2014.

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Dell EMC Gold Partner

On the 6th of February 2017, Dell EMC launched its new partner program with Net Communications as a Gold Partner.

The enormous merger between Dell and EMC took the IT world by storm in 2016. Partner’s new tier levels are dependent on their performance over the previous year as well as maintaining certifications and investing in the partner program.

When working with an IT Solutions Provider, it is important that you are aware of their partnership status with the vendors they work with. Maintaining partnerships with vendors such as Dell EMC requires Net Communications to keep up to date with training, maintain certifications and expertise in the vendor’s products and solutions. Although it is not always the be all and end all when choosing to work with an IT Solutions Provider, it is an indication of the level of capability when providing competitive pricing to their customers as well as expertise when recommending solutions.

When looking for a trusted advisor in procuring your Dell EMC solutions, consider the team at Net Communications.

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Net Communications, a Procurement Australia Panel Supplier for IT

In 2016, Net Communications was announced as a supplier on the Procurement Australia Panel for Information Technology.

Procurement Australia has assisted public, private and government entities (big and small) their purchasing for over thirty years. With over 700 members Australia-wide, their expertise lies in connecting people with reputable and capable businesses to deliver the solution that they require. Suppliers approved on the panel are required to go through a stringent tender process where they are assessed on their financial capability, experience, knowledge, price and other areas such as corporate social responsibility. This allows Procurement Australia to provide its members with a solution they can count on from a trustworthy business that is a leader in its industry.

When you work with Net Communications, you will know that you are receiving a solution from a business that is stable, trusted and an expert in the industry. Unlike many of the businesses that come and go, the Net Communications team has continued to service its customers for almost 30 years. You can trust that without being a member to the Procurement Australia Panel, you will be receiving the same dedication and service that members receive.

For more information on Procurement Australia, please visit their website http://www.procurementaustralia.com.au

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