Today, we have over 6 billion smart devices, mostly smartphones and TVs that are connected to the Internet. Smart devices like these are called the Internet of Things (IoT) and there’s going to be a whole lot more of them soon.
In just a few years, there will be smart cars driving themselves down the road, smart homes setting their thermostats to the perfect temperature, and even smart cities, where large sets of data can be analyzed to improve the health and safety of the citizens.
The problem is in the next 5 years there will be almost 50 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet.
With such this exponential growth, the cloud will not be able to store all that data. As Jonathan Wilkins, the head of marketing for EU Automation, says, "The IoT can only happen through cloud, but today's cloud infrastructure still has a long way to go before it can accommodate for the huge amounts of data that connected devices will generate."
In order to accommodate the influx of data these devices will bring, the cloud is turning into "the fog."
Fog computing (also known edge computing) is made up of nodes or gateways that can store data before it is sent to the cloud. These nodes can be housed in any location, on a factory floor, on top of a power pole, alongside a railway track, in a vehicle, or even on an oilrig, it doesn’t matter. Any device with computing, storage, and network connectivity that can store, organize, and analyze data before it is sent to the cloud can be a part of the fog.
Fog computing will provide all the space that the cloud cannot, plus it will allow for three major advancements, which will allow for faster, cheaper, and safer data storage.
By the time we have 50 billion devices sending data back to the cloud at once, things are going to slow down. Information will inevitably bottleneck, causing dramatic spikes in latency, which will make IoT devices less smart, which will defeat their purpose entirely.
Latency issues are especially problematic with IoT devices because they are often made to transmit any and all data they intake, regardless of how useful it may seem. Since these objects rarely turn off, they are usually transmitting tons of data non-stop.
In the end, all this data is going to be too much to sift through. As Don DeLoach, co-chair of the ITA Midwest IoT Council, says, "One of the downsides of storing vast amounts of data is [the time it takes to find any useful insights]. If each dataset is over a petabyte and I'm running complex queries, it might take five hours just to get my answer back. If I don't even know if I'm asking the right question, that's a big price to pay."
Fog computing allows for the most important data to be separated from the less important data. Useful data can then be stored in nearby nodes, where it can be analyzed in real-time. This process is called "data-thinning" and it can drastically minimize latency. When important data is thinned from less important data, the non-essential data can still be sent to the cloud, where it can be analyzed over longer periods of time, or even discarded as needed.
For example, driverless cars are going to create a lot of data that doesn’t need to be analyzed or stored. A single car has the ability to create petabytes of data every year – by taking millions of images of every street the car drove down, which are not particularly useful. So, when it comes to IoT, too much data can actually be harmful. Fog computing solves this problem by allowing the less useful information to be discarded before it is sent to the cloud, which makes the cloud smarter too.
Often times, data is sent to cloud locations on the other side the world, which can take up a lot of bandwidth. Sending a single packet of data across the Pacific Ocean may not take much, but when big sets of data need to be analyzed afar, a lot of bandwidth can be wasted, especially when it comes to billions of IoT devices sending so much data.
However, when IoT data is stored in near-by fog nodes, bandwidth is minimized by offloading gigabytes of traffic from the network at the source.
Saving small amounts of bandwidth can end up making a big difference over time. Below is a table from a study by Wikibon that found how much cheaper it can be to use fog computing, rather than solely using the cloud.
When you are able to sort out the information before it is sent out to the cloud to be analyzed, you can get just the right information that you need for immediate concerns, rather than sorting through Petabytes of unnecessary data.
IoT devices also create major security issues. When all of your devices are connected to your network, they are more vulnerable to hackers. Since, your smart home can recognize your car and connect with it, a hacker simply has to enter your network through your car or your garage, or any other device. From there, they can travel through your network until they find more relevant data. And, with everything connected through the cloud, all of your data is vulnerable.
Security expert, Bruce Schneider puts it simply, "If we cannot secure complex systems, we can’t build a world where everything is computerized, connected, interconnected, and intermingled."
Under the cloud-centric structure, businesses and homes with IoT devices will become easy targets for hackers, who will have numerous points of entry to your network. But with fog computing, all of these devices can be protected through a single node per network location, which can be secured with encryption, password protection, firewalls, or many other security measures.
The rise of IoT has caused a lot of problems for the cloud, but the solutions that fog computing has provided are actually making the cloud much more efficient at data storage. The table below, from Cisco Blogs, shows the many advantages that fog computing can bring to the cloud.
Having a faster, cheaper, and more secure cloud by utilizing fog computing, has changed the cloud for the better.
How TIG captured revenue faster with the help of Asigra Cloud Backup software and Zadara Storage services
With cloud services representing one of the fastest growing revenue sources for UK-based managed service provider TIG, they quickly became interested in this new business opportunity. In a traditional service model, offering storage services to end customers posed major financial risks in the event of losing a major customer or the inability to sell enough storage capacity to break even. TIG decided to offer a storage-and-data-protection-as-a-service solution built on Asigra cloud-based backup software and Zadara OpEx Storage-as-a-Service solution as it would enable them to offer agile services meeting changing customer requirements quickly in a flexible pay-as-you-go model for faster revenue realization.
Discover how TIG was able to move to revenue faster (80% of companies that completed a trial went on to purchase the service), reduce operational costs, increase monthly recurring revenues and gain competitive differentiation.
As more and more organizations increasingly move workloads to the cloud new opportunities are being generated for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) who offer cloud backup services. The data migration to the cloud presents a real opportunity for the channel to monetize the cloud by driving new recurring revenue through service offerings.
In our latest infographic, we take a look at the five most common data loss events, new data trends and the workloads that organizations are migrating to the cloud. Check out the infographic below.
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According to Gartner, by 2020, 50% of business users will employ cloud-based office systems. As customers shift their data and workloads to cloud platforms such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, Managed Service Providers can take advantage of this opportunity to drive revenue by offering services that address the growing need of managing data in the cloud.
There are many opportunities for MSPs in the cloud, the greatest being associated with data protection. The threat of data storedin the cloud can come in many forms such as viruses(CryptoLocker), unforeseen outages or accidental data loss events that can leave organizations feeling helpless. By being able to protect data, the lifeblood of organizations,you will be able to start the initial conversation which can help spark further discussions leading to new opportunities.
Take a look at this article to learn how offering cloud data protection services can help you:
- Earn monthly recurring revenue
- Realize business growth opportunities with new and existing customers
- Provide a gateway to further discussions with customers
This is part of a series of interviews with Asigra Partners. In this post we're talking with Jason Reid from AssureStor about Cloud Backup Services.
TS: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jason: My name is Jason Reid, and I am the founder and Managing Director of AssureStor (@AssureStor). We are a UK-based company who specialize in cloud backup and disaster recovery. We provide our services via a dedicated partner channel, and also directly to various organizations in the UK and further afield.
As a techie and self-certified ‘geek,’ one of my primary focuses is on delivering the best technology available. Our partnerships with Asigra and Zerto allow us to do just that and more.
As well as a passion for technology, I have a strong focus on customer service: for AssureStor it is one of the key areas that differentiate us from other providers. Delivering 100 percent customer satisfaction is no easy task, but AssureStor achieves this with the support of technology from the likes of Asigra that does exactly what it says it will.
TS: Jason, it took only seven minutes for you to recover 35,000 files that were affected by Locky. Tell us about the recovery process.
JR: Sure. We have a public sector customer, responsible for social housing in the UK, who was recently affected by one of the latest ransomware viruses called Locky. The virus crawled their core file server and a critical application server, encrypting over 35,000 files out of almost a million files. Using Asigra Cloud Backup, we were able to identify the encrypted files and restore all affected files within seven minutes and 29 seconds.
The initial infection took place around 38 hours prior to the customer contacting us. Fortunately for us, our cloud backup service is powered by Asigra, which provides us with the flexibility and ability to identify the specific files affected, which enabled us to perform such a quick recovery.
TS: If you could not restore the specific files affected, how long would it have taken to restore the files?
JR: Too long! The call came in from the customer who needed urgent access to a file, only to discover that their system had been infected. Unfortunately, in many cases when a system is infected the safest thing to do is restore it from a point prior to the infection. As one server had over 1TB of data this would have taken hours if we had to restore the whole system. And to compound the issue, this process would have reverted all files back to their state at the time of the backup, as well as causing the whole organization to lose access to the file server whilst we carried out the restore.
Thankfully we did not need to undertake such an invasive process. The way Locky and many malicious ransomware viruses work is through renaming and encrypting the files they infect, which essentially deletes the original file. With Asigra Cloud Backup and its extremely powerful restore wizard, we were able to create a restore job that identified the missing files (those that had been renamed by the virus) and performed a restore of only those files.
The restore time was well below 10 minutes, and we did this whilst the system was live – removing the need for any downtime.
It’s All About the Recovery – Recovery is Everything
TS: Your customer must have been pleased that you were able to recover the files.
JR: Yes, they were extremely pleased with the rapid recovery and the overall business outcome. It took our team less than 30 minutes from the time we received their call, to understanding the issue, and then identifying and recovering the files. And by removing the need for any downtime we have demonstrated the importance and value of good backup protection.
TS: Is this the first time that you have helped a customer recover their data from ransomware?
JR: No. Actually, we have helped four customers successfully recover data encrypted by ransomware of different flavors. Another one of our customers was impacted by CryptoLocker, the ransomware Trojan that targeted computers running Microsoft Windows.
TS: Can you please explain why recovery point objectives and long term retention are key in ransomware situations?
JR: Sure, happy to explain. With Asigra we can backup customer data frequently, even on large servers. This is due to the incremental forever technology, which allows us to offer multiple rollback points over short durations. In addition, with the Asigra retention rules we can store data on a longer term basis efficiently. Given that our client only realized after 38 hours that their file server had been infected by the virus, we needed to go back to that recovery point to identify and recover the encrypted files. The balance of time-based long term retention, local caching, granular file, and LAN speed recovery enabled us to easily create a restore job that pulled back all of the data quickly.
TS: Jason, what is the one piece of advice that you would provide to companies to prevent ransomware viruses from affecting their critical corporate data?
JR: Well, first I would recommend from a security perspective that organizations should implement additional protection by taking the necessary precautions to limit the access that employees have to data. In my experience, organizations will typically provide some employees – especially executives or, in the case of a legal firm, all of the partners – access to all the files and data across the entire organization. However, these individuals are not exempt from being affected by ransomware viruses. If one of these executives’ systems is affected by a virus the virus now has access to crawl all the servers and files within the organization. Employees, regardless of rank, should only have access to the data they need on a day-to-day basis to fulfill their role and responsibilities. Restriction of access to files should be enforced across the organization to limit the number of potential infection points.
Secondly, most IT teams or organizations focus on protecting their core file/Exchange servers, but they need to make sure that any server to which a user has file access is also protected. If a user can see a server, so can a virus – leading to infection! Our experience has shown that protecting application servers along with core file servers has been prudent when we have had to perform a recovery due to a virus outbreak.
Finally I would recommend that, if you do not have a data protection strategy in place that covers all of your data across your entire organization, you need to implement one today. Ransomware is not going away, and if it finds an infection point and starts crawling one system, it can weave a web throughout your entire infrastructure.
TS: Jason, thanks for your time today.
JR: If anyone has experienced a ransomware attack and wants to share their experience, we would love to hear about it. Or if you want to know more about how AssureStor can help your organization develop a data protection strategy, visit our website or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are very excited to announce our new partnership with Azlan, the enterprise value added distribution business of Tech Data. This partnership extends Azlan’s managed services portfolio as well as enhances its status as the leading distribution partner for MSPs in the UK market.
“For both the MSP and the customer, it’s vital to know that data is safely backed up. But that’s of little use if you can’t complete a fast and efficient recovery,” said Andy Brown, director of Cloud Services UK and Ireland at Azlan. He also adds, “Asigra Cloud Backup is fast, reliable and secure.”
Managed Service Providers looking to grow their top line revenue, drive monthly recurring revenue, add new customer logos, improve customer retention and expand their total addressable market, should speak with Azlan about how this new partnership with Asigra can enable them to achieve these corporate objectives. Asigra not only has the experience and knowledge in working with a global ecosystem of MSPs , but has developed a portfolio of business tools including a market readiness toolkit and marketing turnkey campaigns that MSPs can leverage to get to revenue faster.
This is part of a series of interviews with Asigra Partners. In this post we're talking with James Chillman from UK Backup about Cloud Backup Services.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is James Chillman, and I am the Managing Director at UK Backup (@UKBackupltd). We provide a range of online backup and hybrid/private backup solutions to organizations in both the private and public sector. UK Backup provides an end-to-end solution that not only makes backing up easy but ensures that our customers can quickly and easily restore their data as and when they need to. Our services are offered as a fully managed public cloud, hybrid or private cloud solution.
We are based out of a high security campus in Farnborough, UK where the data that we backup for customers resides within an ISO:27001, BS 25999 and ISO:9001 accredited facility. With a team of engineers on site 24/7/365 we ensure that our customers’ data is easily available as and when they require it.
When organizations engage with you to discuss using your cloud backup service powered by Asigra, what is their top concern?
Typically, governance. Where is the data stored is the number question we get when first engaging with a potential new customer. They want to know where the data is stored – the physical location – and secondly, whether the location has the most up-to-date accreditations like ISO 27001, etc. Data sovereignty is a primary concern for most companies, they want their data to remain in the country of origin. For example, UK based companies want their data to be kept in the UK. German based companies want their data to remain in Germany.
Companies should keep pace with the IT Industry to ensure that they are future proofing their systems to grow and scale accordingly
Is security still a primary concern for companies?
Yes, security will always be a primary concern as data is the lifeblood of any company. Losing customer data, financial data, the CEO emails, etc., would be bad for any company and could be the downfall of the company. It is critical that the data is encrypted during flight and at rest at all times. Buyers should be asking vendors about encryption to ensure that the cloud backup services they are considering are using AES-256 encryption. Another question buyers should always ask is who holds the encryption key as this is a very important consideration too.
What is one area of back up, that most buyers overlook when procuring a cloud backup service?
Great question. Quite often companies do not ask enough about retention policies. This is a key area of data protection that companies should ensure that the service can provide to meet their short and long term needs especially if they are in a compliance mandated market such as financial services and healthcare. Companies should be looking for a service that can provide more than 30 days and multiple versions in different time periods – per week and every month.
When buyers approach you and your team, do they already know what type of service they want to procure?
Yes and no. There are definitely some companies that approach us and they know they want to outsource all of their back up to us as a fully managed service. Typically, these organizations have completed preliminary research online and are very educated and know what they want. However, we do have some companies approaching us that are concerned about the security of their data and due to corporate protocols; they prefer a private cloud approach. Luckily since our service is powered by Asigra Cloud Backup, we have the flexibility to offer our service as a public (fully managed), hybrid (co-managed) and private (self-managed).
There are always questions about what type of data we can back up. Typically customers have three or four sources of data that they need protected. The data could be email like Exchange, simple office documents, spreadsheets, multi-media files, content created in Office 365, so we typically discuss our capabilities to back up all of the data across their entire environment. Since our service is very comprehensive, this enables us to back up data on virtual and physical servers, enterprise databases and applications, laptops, workstations, tablets, smartphones, Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce.com, AWS and Azure, backing up data in a variety of locations and sources is not an issue for us.
When it comes to Recovery Time Objectives, what advice would you provide to companies considering cloud backup services?
I would tell companies to categorize their data, that not all data should be treated equal or the same. I would also suggest that companies should work with a Service Provider who can help them through this process as it can be daunting depending on how much data is across the organization. Companies should ask the Service Provider to conduct a LAN Storage Discovery analysis to identify the data available across their LAN and then to discuss which is critical data and not critical to build a better data picture. And the Service Provider should be asking questions such as “In the event of a disaster, which data would you need to access immediately?”; “What is critical data that you need to keep 30 versions of in the event that you needed it in a court of law?”; “Which data is non-critical that we can move to low cost storage?”.
Is price a critical factor for companies who procure cloud backup services?
Yes, price is always a factor whether you are buying a car, a fridge or a cloud backup service. However, in my opinion you need to balance quality with price. There is a misperception in the marketplace that cloud backup services should be cheap – we can probably thank Amazon for this as they continue to promote their web services offering for 1 cent. However, in all seriousness, companies need to ensure that they know what they are paying for as not all cloud backup services are priced the same. Some vendors you pay per virtual machine, some per socket, and some for protected data, not stored data. Companies should be asking for a service that prices based on compressed and deduplicated data. For instance our cloud backup service is priced on compressed and deduplicated data – typically we see a 3:1 compression ratio – which can make a big difference on the pricing.
Also beyond the data capacity, the type of service will affect the price too. Some Managed Service Providers provide a white glove service, some provide a fully managed service where they completely handle the entire backups for their client while others provide a co-managed service. So companies need to understand what type of service they are paying for and decide whether they need all of the bells n’ whistles being delivered. It is no different than when you purchase a car – do you need the heated seats or can you live without them? Each buyer has different needs, some are pickier than others.
The one piece of advice that I would provide companies is to ensure that they are comparing apples to apples when considering a cloud backup service as there are many different flavors in the market place – make sure you are selecting the one that meets your business needs and can evolve as your needs change.
Last week was not a good week for Salesforce.com or for its customers. The data loss experienced last week is tragic; however, it validates why companies of all sizes need to ensure that they have a data protection strategy in place for data born and stored in any part of the cloud.
Whether corporate data resides in Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce.com, AWS, Azure or another cloud source, companies need to remember that they bear the corporate responsibility to ensure the data is protected to meet their Recovery Time Objectives and compliance mandates.
Sadly for Salesforce.com customers, this is not the first data loss instance and likely not the last. For customers who are relying on the SaaS vendor to provide comprehensive data protection, it’s time to rethink that strategy and get serious about data protection.
Companies need to remember that SaaS vendors such as Salesforce.com charge per recovery if a data recovery is required. For example, with Salesforce.com, after 15 days, records sent to the Recycle Bin can only be recovered with the help of support at a cost of $10,000.00 per recovery. And after 90 days, records sent to the Recycle Bin are unrecoverable; and restores, where possible, are ‘all or nothing’ meaning you could end up with a large and confusing quantity of files in a user’s account. Office 365 and Google Apps have similar policies whereby after a specific number of days the data restores may not be possible.
Not only do companies need to think about what they are doing to protect the data in these SaaS-based applications, but if they are outsourcing their IT to Managed Service Providers (MSP), the MSP bears a responsibility as a trusted advisor to provide guidance to their customers on how to protect this data, which may be the lifeblood of the company – its critical customer data.
As Eran Farajun, executive vice president, Asigra stated in an interview with CRN editor Joseph Tsidulko last week, “This should remind [the channel] that if you're selling a SaaS application and that data just sits there, you don’t absolve yourself of the responsibility of [protecting] your customers, to ensure the data management processes that the customer was doing for data when it was sitting on-prem are extended to the data sitting now in a SaaS vendor's cloud.”
SaaS data loss can be prevented. For more information on cloud-to-cloud backup strategies, please contact us today.
Tracy Staniland, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Asigra has been recognized by The Channel Company in the 2016 CRN Women of the Channel awards. CRN’s annual list recognizes outstanding female executives across vendor channel organizations, distributors, solution providers, as well as women who are involved in the IT channel ecosystem that have made a prominent impact in the technology industry.
Hand-picked by CRN editors, each honoree is selected for demonstrating outstanding leadership and vision, as well as their achievements in driving channel growth. Along with helping the company’s channel partners grow their cloud backup monthly recurring revenue, Staniland has been instrumental in advancing Asigra’s channel business through developing new programs and initiatives, in addition to keeping the community of partners engaged in a Brand Advocacy Program which through gamification rewards those who contribute to promoting the Asigra brand.
For more information on the 2016 CRN Women of the Channel and the nominees go to www.CRN.com/wotc2016.
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At Asigra, we find exciting news about data protection, cloud-based technologies, and industry updates every day. Sharing that news through our monthly newsletter is part of our mission to help you stay informed. From tips about how to increase monthly recurring revenue, saving money on backup costs, to key backup industry predictions, the Asigra Data Protection Trends Newsletter is a source for everything data protection.
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Check out the April issue to hear why InfinIT Consulting joined the Asigra global partner ecosystem.
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