Author Archives: Netmetix

Recent article featured in the Warwickshire telegraph.

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Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it comes to authorising budget for IT the Finance Director can be presented with a minefield of jargon and impenetrable specifications

– How do you make sure that the solution you buy will meet your company needs and won’t become outdated within a couple of years?

Providing a robust network is complex enough but then there are decisions about who should support the system, what maintenance contracts should be purchased, how should you go about buying the hardware & software and from which supplier & finally, and most importantly, how to develop an IT strategy to ensure that whatever you buy helps to develop your organisation’s services and doesn’t just become a drain on limited resources
The Solution : Move your IT to the Cloud !

Here at Cloudmetix we have a winning solution and the really impressive aspect for any FD is that the solution is considerably cheaper and more flexible than traditional IT expenditure.
For further details please see: Cloudmetix

By Selina Chandler, FD @ Netmetix.

Cloud to beat Olympic business disruption

How do you enjoy the Olympic Games when you have a business to run?

It’s an exciting time for Coventry as we gear up to welcome the Olympic games but while we are all enjoying the festivities and fun that the greatest event on earth brings, what does the influx of visitors and attention on the city mean to your business?

There are some obvious positives – the profile of Coventry and its businesses will be raised and you will have the opportunity to bring your products and services to a wider audience but it also brings with it problems, particularly for SMEs.

A recent Lords debate at the end of March raised the subject of the potential disruption to businesses during the Olympic Games. Like London, Coventry will be seeing a surge in visitors meaning an increase in the amount of people on the roads and even more congestion. Have you considered the possibility that members of your staff may not be able to get to work on time – if at all?

If you are technology savvy and your Coventry business is using cloud computing then this possibility need not be a worry. Cloud computing offers total flexibility to your business and allows you to access your work computer network at any time from anywhere in the world – taking work out of normal business hours and out into the modern day business world, where a lot of productivity happens on the move. With cloud computing, staff are able to work from home, on public transport from laptops and iPads or even in their local coffee house, meaning that your business does not have to suffer from increased congestion on the roads.

Another point raised in the House of the Lords was the potential effects of a cyber surge in view of the huge interest there will be in the Olympic Games themselves. With more and more people accessing Coventry and using our Wi-Fi ports around the area, will your business be able to survive a high demand for internet capabilities?

With cloud computing, your business uses a high performance IT network which offers increased bandwidth compared to any other network, making your business a lot more resilient. Cloud computing automatically updates software and facilities in the cloud so it does not affect your on-going usage. What’s more – it is just about as safe an IT network as it is possible to find.

Cloud computing comes with enhanced security packages that protect your business from external and internal threats to your network. Our own cloud computing solution, Cloudmetix, is protected by the latest security appliances and software from Cisco and Symantec. The datacentre is protected by 24/7 perimeter security and CCTV with scheduled authorised access only with photo-ID.

Having a professional, reliable cloud computing service in place can guarantee that your business is not affected by the Olympic games. You need not worry about bandwidth surges, increased congestion or security because your cloud solution protects you against any threat to lost downtime and profit. Instead, you will just be free to enjoy a historic Olympic games and cheer Team GB up the medals table.

What does our Microsoft Gold Partner status mean for you?

You probably know by now that we are a certified Microsoft Gold Partner (we like to talk about it now and again) but what exactly does that mean? So we can affix the name Microsoft onto the end of every service we offer but being certified gold by the brand is much more than bragging rights! It basically means that we can offer our customers so much more to our customers than our competitors can. In fact, as we like to shout when it comes to our managed services – we are staying ahead of the game!

What’s the point of it?

Being certified gold by Microsoft means that we are officially endorsed to provide you with the highest levels of expertise, strategic thinking, and hands-on skills. It means that when it comes to working on Microsoft products, we know better than other companies how their products operate, their strengths and weaknesses and above all else, how to get the best results from all Microsoft products.

It means that we work closely with Microsoft, maintaining excellent communicative links with the company and receiving the very best IT training. As a gold certified Microsoft partner, we encompass a broad range of expertise and vendor affiliations that can help you prioritise and effectively deliver your technology solutions.

 

Why should I care?

 

Not just any company gets to be certified gold by Microsoft you know!  Microsoft Gold partners have been in the IT industry for an average of five years, bringing lots of experience to customers.  Such an award proves that we have met the minimum benchmark for the number of Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) who have a demonstrated level of technical expertise and the proven ability to deliver solutions featuring Microsoft products. MCPs have to pass certification exams developed by Microsoft no less! If you like talking numbers, we have four!

 

In order to achieve Microsoft Gold status, we have to prove that we offer expertise in IT   infrastructure, networking, office automation, e-commerce, collaboration, business intelligence and other leading edge IT disciplines. We offer consulting, training, implementation, maintenance and support – the complete package!  With 24/7 telephone support available to us from Microsoft, 365 days of the year, there is no Microsoft-related IT enquiry that we cannot solve for our clients, making us one of the most skilled IT systems businesses in the region.

 

Oh, and guess what….

 

You now know exactly what we are talking about when mention our Microsoft Gold status but that’s not all.  We’re currently #2 nationally on the MS Pinpoint website for Gold Server partners. We’re #1 within a 10 mile radius of Coventry across all disciplines and #3 within a 25 mile radius (CLICK HERE). This simply means that we have received some of the most positive reviews from customers.

 

So don’t just take our word for how good our services are, take the word of one of the biggest IT companies in the world and the many people who have used us in the past. It is them who help us stay ahead of the game!

Seminar begins to spread the word that cloud computing can be secure

We have been a busy hub of productivity since announcing our first cloud computing seminar, and the success of the event last Wednesday has given us more to go at in the way of educating businesses on de-mystifying cloud computing, what the business benefits are, and how to choose the right provider.

One of our main aims was to allay concerns that people have around the security of cloud computing. Whilst the overall model has evidently been around since the 1960’s, it is still a relatively new concept to SMEs, and the term itself can be extremely complex as it can cover all types of internet-based activity. In speaking to businesses across the board, we have always found that there is a level of naivety around the protection of data in the cloud. Following on from our seminar, the general consensus was that people were unaware that if you choose the right provider then data can actually be more secure in the cloud.

It is important that businesses are taught about the huge benefits they can gain from using a cloud solution which not only helps them manage day to day operations more effectively, but also underpins their growth strategies. We wanted to invite impartial advice from the National B2B Centre and Coventry University to show businesses that this really is a great advancement in terms of business IT.

Delegates, ranging from accountants and solicitors to musicians and virtual office services, congregated at the Management Group Training Services Centre in Coventry last Wednesday to hear expert advice from three different perspectives.

A topic of significant interest at the seminar was the impact of the USA PATRIOT Act, where data passing through an American located or owned (partially or in whole)network is accessible by American authorities. This was something that delegates appeared to be initially unaware of. One of the running themes in the feedback was that companies would want to use a provider which stores all their data in local UK datacentres, providing a much higher level of security that most SMEs could afford themselves.

Here’s what some of the attendees said:

Sean Farnell, partner at Burgis and Bullock accountants:
“The security session was very thought provoking as I wasn’t aware of the USA PATRIOT Act beforehand. It has made me think that I would definitely want all of my data remaining in the UK at all times, and the seminar as a whole has given me more clarity in what I would want and need from a cloud provider.”

Ruth Coles, director of training services at The Paperwork Team:
“I liked the security presentation a lot, as it is one area I am personally interested in. If you are storing client’s information then you need to know how secure it is. In regards to the data centre it’s good to know where the datacentres are because of having a physical image. It became clear to me that if you use one of the large American companies as a provider then it is hard to ensure that the provider is taking all the security measures themselves.”

Lewis Burden, IT manager at Challinors Solicitors:
“What I found most important were the concerns around the security of data and obtaining a service level agreement from your provider. We attended the seminar as we already use it in some respects but are on a fact finding mission as we would like to expand our use of cloud. It has made us think about giving more consideration to the provider by researching them thoroughly and we would be more inclined to go with them if they had references from existing clients who are legal firms.”

Vince O’Malley, owner of Musical Exchanges:
“I felt completely de-mystified after the presentation. I went in knowing very little about the cloud and it gave a lot of information, and considering it was such a lot to take in, it was laid out and explained in an easy to follow manner. As a company we had been discussing servers and cloud computing and since the seminar we can now see the benefit of the flexibility offered rather than an in-house or shared server, as we use now. In regards to security I didn’t know what to think beforehand, however as the seminar wen on it became clear why people may have concern, but these were well combatted by the speakers. It is now clear that with the right cloud provider it is not something you should worry about because the cloud can be more secure than other systems anyway.”

Margaret Mary Keaney, director of MMK Mediation and Consulting:
“If people did not know about cloud computing beforehand then it was a  useful seminar to begin to understand it. I am already using cloud but it was a good way to find out more about how it works as I am fairly new to it.”

We now look forward to hosting a number of other cloud computing seminars this year in order to teach businesses across the region how they can be brought forward. If you are looking at moving to cloud computing why not try it first.  With Cloudmetix you can have a 30 day trial period with no obligation.   Simply call us today on: 02476 408100

Cloud Computing Seminar: ‘Staying ahead of the game’

This month we are holding a cloud seminar to help businesses across our region understand how they can reap benefits of cloud computing for their business.

When? Wednesday 18th April

Where? Midland Group Training Services on Gulson Road in Coventry

Time? 9am – 12pm

Surviving in today’s highly competitive market requires SMEs to be on top form and completely agile when it comes to performance.  And it is cloud computing that is leading the way when it comes to adaptability, flexibility and scalability. 

To give you all the information you need if you’re considering cloud computing for your business, we have gathered a team of three speakers who will cover the key features and benefits.

Freedom

Embrace the freedom of doing what you do best – running your business! Cloud computing allows you and your team to access your business from anywhere in the world, at any time. In the 21st century, companies have flexible work forces.  It makes sense to have IT that fits modern business models.

Agility

We can learn many lessons from the animal kingdom about speed, agility and performance which can be translated to business. Cloud computing offers you the agility of a cheetah – flexible, fast, and precise.  At the same time it has the elasticity which will allow you to adapt to changing market conditions by scaling the size of your business quickly and efficiently, and without the capital investment.

Business IT Security

Full platform cloud computing which offers you full IT infrastructure as well as Software as A Service will keep your systems and data safe, secure and bug-free. Our experts will address any concerns you might have around data security and how you can ensure your choice of cloud provider is safe.

Who are our speakers?

Paul Blore, managing director of Netmetix

 

Martin King-Turner, managing director of the National B2B Centre Limited

 

Professor Brian Moore, Senior Lecturer in Ethical Hacking & Network Security

 

There will be FREE Cloud cookies and refreshments for all our guests as well as a comprehensive view on how Cloud can optimise your business performance.  So why wouldn’t you attend? SIGN UP HERE!

Cloud Computing: Where is your data?

With all the hype around Cloud Computing we feel it is important that we combat the concerns and criticisms raised around the subject. As with every product, there are good versions and bad versions of cloud computing, this is why it has received some negative feedback with regard to the security of data. However, as IT professionals we are able to provide expert knowledge in the field due to our hefty investment into our full platform cloud solution.

When it comes to your data security, the question is where exactly is this data and how can your ensure that it is secure? Recently, there has been much debate over the storage of data offshore in relation to the USA Patriot Act.

What is the USA Patriot Act and how does it affect cloud computing in the UK?

The Act was set up in 2001 as a response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th which reduced the daily freedoms of the American public and also allows for America to access data from the EU. The concern is that businesses using large cloud providers such as Microsoft, are storing their data in datacentres offshore which will not be entirely secure because of this Act. The grey area is around the storage of the data with an American owned company. If you enter into a contract directly with a US company, without going through a local UK subsidiary, your data then lies directly under US law. Therefore, if you are a UK business moving your data to the cloud it may well be important to ensure that your cloud provider bases their datacentres in the UK.

At Netmetix… We have dual datacentres that are based in the Derbyshire area – which we allow our customers to go and visit and be assured that it is secure and local. If the provider has dual datacentres, this means that there are two backups of the data; therefore if something catastrophic happened to one, there would always be the other one. Other attributes to our datacentre ensuring 100% security include:

  • Full perimeter security with internal & external CCTV
  • Photo ID swipe card entry system
  • UPS & diesel generator power backup
  • Dual Gbit Internet connections
  • Enterprise level Cisco firewalls

Cloudmetix is our fully managed and supported cloud solution which offers you Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) integrated with Software as a Service (SaaS).  The data from all of our Cloud customers is stored in the fully secure datacentre mentioned above.

If you would like to learn more about Cloudmetix and our secure local datacentres for your business then please contact us on 024 76 408100

Top 10 IT security risks

As experts in IT security, we know more than most the kinds of things that can cause you to have a system meltdown.  Misplaced passwords, foolish downloading and lazy maintenance can lead to someone hacking into your IT system and causing some real long-lasting damage. Of course, we are not all security experts and many put their security at risk without even realising it, which is why we have compiled this top ten list of things to avoid in order to keep your IT network secure and confidential.

10. Being clumsy

You don’t say, huh? It may seem obvious but common sense can often be overlooked when using an IT system that you have used so much you have begun to take for granted.  Be careful what you are clicking, think about what you are doing and don’t assume that everything you do on your system can be quickly undone.  If making any changes make sure you can easily revert back to the old operational commands of the network in case anything goes wrong.

9. Turn off automatic updates

Aren’t they annoying? Whenever your computer tells you it is time to install automatic updates, you die a little death inside and prepare yourself for hours of seemingly pointless installations. Contrary to popular belief, automatic updates are useful. In fact, without them, you can be susceptible to contracting malware. Get a virus in your system and your IT network is rendered useless – not all viruses can be picked up by anti-virus software!

8. Insert any kind of stored data into your drivers

USB sticks and CD ROMS can, and probably will, be inserted into all manner of computers and therefore could have contracted all sorts of viruses that once installed, could destroy your IT system. Only use data sources from trusted people or invest in some device scanning software to make sure everything you put in your computer is safe to explore.

7. Save just one copy of everything

We are all busy these days so saving multiple copies of work and transferring it onto a number of portable devices can take up far too much of your time. Fail to backup data in this way though, and should your IT system become breached and your data lost, you would spend just as much time doing all your work again. By keeping backed up data in a different location to your normal office network, like our backup software does, you can be sure that even if it is lost, it can be easily restored. Our Managed Backup service takes all the effort out of ensuring you have accurate and up to dates backups of your critical business data.

6. Download too much freeware

Free stuff is great isn’t it? Not when it is installing malware, creating system conflicts and crashes it isn’t. It can be easy to replace official software with free, open source alternatives but a lot of the time you are getting what you pay for – unofficial solutions that frequently carry security threats. Be careful what you download for free or if possible, only purchase official licensed software.

5. Open every single email you receive

You have thousands of emails in your inbox but you are not as popular as you may think. Many of these emails are likely to be spam. Clicking on unsolicited content or opening emails from people you don’t know could lead you to download malware to your system, effectively shutting the whole thing down. Our Managed Anti-Spam service will filter out the vast majority of unsolicited spam and remove all viruses and malware before it gets anywhere near your computers.

4. Ignore your capacity

Set a reminder for when your anti-virus runs out and make sure you stay on top of how much space you have left within your IT system. There is nothing worse than being over your data allowance and experiencing computer systems that slow and clogged up. As your hard drive gets closer to filling up, your computer will have to spend much more time trying to find spaces to save your files, which will drastically slow down everything it does.

3. Knowingly surf the web unprotected

There’s always that space of time between when your anti virus programme expires and when you update it. You may spend a few days looking for a better deal or could even forget to update it. Make sure you update your anti virus as soon as possible and never surf the web without an up to date working antivirus – it would be sod’s law that you would contract a virus during this blip. Our Managed Anti-Virus service is always kept up to date to provide optimum protection and can be auto-deployed across your entire network.

2. Post your personal details online

It can be easy to put too much online. Whether sending a quick email or posting on a forum, contact details can be easily leaked without you actually realising the security risks. Make sure you think about the information you give out online – stray information can be easily picked up by hackers and used to their advantage. Remember, if you wouldn’t hand the information to a total stranger, don’t post it online.

 

1. Be too relaxed over who has access to your computer system

 

A relaxed boss is a good thing but one that is too relaxed to regularly maintain and update the control panel to their IT systems access panel is a risky thing. Think about which employees you are giving access to your IT system and make sure that when an employee leaves, they are instantly withdrawn access and passwords are changed. There is nothing worse than a vexed ex-employee hacking into company data and causing destruction.

‘Hacking Hell’ for business

2012 is  already cybercrime’s HELL YEAR – as reported by Fast Company

Visitors to the Birmingham City Council website last week found themselves unable to check council tax payments, find out about council meetings and check library opening times as the website was taken offline as a defensive measure against online hackers.  A group of unknown hackers outside of the UK attempted to hack into the council’s £2.8 million state-of-the-art website and breach the private details of all city residents.

In the same week, BBC’s Inside Out programme asked students at Coventry University’s ethical hacking class to hack into the private details of former boxer Richie Woodhall, through which they easily obtained his full name, date of birth, educational achievements and more crucially, his internet protocol address through which viruses and malware could be spread. All this at the time the UK embraced Internet Safety Day (February 7), a nationwide campaign designed to promote safer use of online technology throughout the world.

The threat of hacking has never really gone away since last year’s widely reported hacks on the Sony Playstation Network, blogging platform WordPress and Facebook but these latest events highlight the danger of hacking as a regional worry for local businesses as well as one that can affect larger corporations. 

Falling victim to hacking can not only cause your business stress and worry but can also impact on your working hours as you spend days, weeks or even months looking for the most effective way to restore and protect your IT systems. Cybercrime is estimated to cost £1 trillion a year worldwide and £27 billion in the UK alone so it is no surprise that the latest Chamber of Commerce investigation into business crime found that firms in the region were losing more than £7,000 a year due to hacking and cybercrime.

There are many ways that we can protect your IT systems from the threat of hacking and our managed services include 24/7 monitored anti-spam and anti-virus software, email management services, data leakage protection, backup and replication services and multiple quarantine management. You can pick a bespoke security package to suit you to ensure that it is right for the line of  business you work in or alternatively you could adopt our Cloudmetix cloud computing solution that will look after all areas of concern.

Cloudmetix contains software as a service and offers built-in protection against all hacking attempts and data threats. Cloudmetix eliminates the time spent constantly updating your anti-virus, searching for the right software on which to store data and the expense paid when it all goes wrong. With data replicated and stored at an offline location as well as anti-virus and anti-spam software running around the clock, you can be sure that with Cloudmetix or our individual managed services, your business data is protected and safe from online attacks and you can get on with the day to day concerns of running your business, leaving the technical issues to us!

Find out more about Cloudmetix at www.cloudmetix.net or follow us on twitter @cloudmetix to see for yourself how we are helping fellow businesses stay protected against the constant threat of hacking.

Managed Services can help your business grow

Managed services is an area of IT provision that is set for huge growth, with the Americans expecting spending to increase from 27% in 2011 to 40% in 2015.  The UK is rapidly following suit, and we have been at the forefront of this growth with our own range of managed services.

Managed Services can include anything from a complete cloud computing infrastructure like our own Cloudmetix or a fully managed internal IT system to a simple managed anti-virus service. Our wide range of managed services includes Cloudmetix, WAN solutions, anti-virus, anti-spam, back-up, replication, audit and IP telephony. 

In our experience helping companies across the Midlands with their IT issues, we have found managed services contribute to the growth of a business as well as taking the pressure off day-to-day business itself. We have seen companies able to divert attention away from managing their own IT development projects and focus on their core business development. Additional bonuses of an IT overhaul include the company using less power and reducing their IT carbon footprint.

 

What managed services are on offer?

Cloud computing

Cloudmetix enables you to have access to your full IT systems from anywhere,  provided you have an internet connection. It allows access to all your files and documents, your business software and email accounts. The whole system is updated and maintained by a professional IT team, so all you have to worry about is the actual business. It brings together all members of your team, including any remote workers and branches from different locations.

Anti-virus

A fully managed anti-virus solution will mean that the selection, testing, planning, deployment, updating and reporting of the software will be taken off your shoulders. The Netmetix anti-virus managed services package will also cost no more than what you would pay for a basic unmanaged software product. It provides the  skilled IT resources, domain expertise, centralised monitoring and management facilities and proactive approach to ensuring the protection of your servers, desktops and laptops against the ever present threat of viruses, spam and malware attacks.

 

Anti-spam

A Managed Anti-spam service will prevent all unwanted email, spam and virus’s from ever reaching your network. How is it different to junk e-mail?  It means you don’t have to filter through checking for legitimate emails, giving your business back productivity time. It will give your business the continual protection needed to stay on top of this ever present and evolving threat.

Back-up

With all the IT threats present in this technological age, a managed back-up will create a safe, reliable infrastructure, which will help you recover from a disruption before downtime negatively affects business operations or customer relations. It means that all files are automatically backed up as frequently as every 15 minutes if needed.  

Replication

A managed replication service is a step in a disaster recovery plan. It ensures that a continuous replication of the business data is stored off-site within a secure Network Operation Centre, so if the worse ever did happen, then the business could be quickly be back up and running.

Audit

A managed audit protects customer and business data from increasing security threats and tougher compliance requirements in regulated industries. It will give a comprehensive way to regularly assess and report on possible vulnerability, configuration and compliance related issues on the network.

IP Telephony

This is a way to unify communications and ensure that you are communicating effectively with suppliers, customers and colleagues. It is an all-in-one networking and communications solution that will mean your business can collaborate and problem-solve more effectively. IP telephony also allows a greater degree of flexibility by bringing remote workers and locations into a single telephone system with free inter-location calls. IP routed telephony can also significantly reduce your monthly telephone bills.

 

Take the first step in relieving your business IT headache by employing a Managed Services Solution suitable for your business. Call one of our friendly advisors on 024 7640 8100 to experience the relief yourself.