11

Aug

2020

Will we ever print at the office again?

Hint: Yes, but how we work with paper is forever changed.

As companies work through how to bring staff back to the office, how they work will drive many changes in policies and required infrastructure. One of the critical pieces to assess is print workflows. Our own company is planning for big changes in how our team members work together, and like you, it’s affecting how we work with paper.

Until a vaccine for COIVD19 is readily available, offices are going to have to enforce policies that protect the health and safety of their employees. That means reduced office capacity and enforced social distancing at the office. When you have to stay 2 metres apart from everyone, how work gets done will change. First, not everyone will be able to physically be in the office at the same time, and second, even if they are in the office they can’t work in close proximity.

The Three Workflow Styles and Paper Usage

Work in most offices can be divided into a few “workflows”. The first is individual administrative work - dealing with emails, organizing tasks, setting calendar appointments, etc. Next is individual focused work - the time that staff is working on individual tasks and projects to the exclusion of all other distractions, and finally there is collaborative work and meetings.

People print on paper for all 3 of these workflows today. In administrative mode - some people print out calendars or specific emails because they like to see the information they are working with on paper. Similarly, in focused work, they may print out revisions of work to see how it looks and to produce final copies of output. And in collaborative mode, they may be printing out information to share in a meeting with colleagues or customers. Even in offices with paperless policies a lot of printing still occurs.

All these print jobs generate demand in terms of paper output and printing supplies, but it also creates office traffic as users walk back and forth between their workstations and the printer. (And the breakroom for a coffee).

COVID IS Dropping Print Demand

There is currently a significant drop in print demand during the pandemic as in-person meetings are replaced by GoToMeeting Video Conferencing, and Office365 online document collaboration. Additionally, staff will be discouraged from printing superfluously either out of concern of their own health, or by enforced policies from IT as frequent trips in the office could increase the likelihood of virus spread.

Still some printing will occur and offices will need to plan for new workflows accordingly. For example, marketing professionals may still have a high need for marketing materials, direct mail, labels, etc. Finance departments may still need to print invoices for customers. These identified high output individuals may be better off getting their own specialized print devices placed closer to them to reduce the number of trips through the office.

What About After There’s A Vaccine?

The likelihood that things will go back to normal is low. A readily available vaccine is likely a year to 2 years away at this point, and while we are working in this new mode, we are training staff to be paperless. There’s a good chance that they will build collaboration habits that will not be undone when the pandemic is over.

Now Is The Best Time To Reimagine Your Print Setup

It’s probably a good idea to do an assessment of your setup, as you may be oversized for the amount of print volume you’ll be doing

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7

Feb

2018

4 Unexpected Ways Data Egress Fees Could Cost You

Cloud computing is often cited as a way for SMBs to save money. Smaller business, which typically don’t have the resources necessary to maintain their own in-house computing infrastructures are often seduced by the convenience and flexibility of public cloud services. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine (GCE) are the Big Three in this area, and millions of businesses rely on them every day.

Unfortunately, with most of the public cloud services come a whole raft of hidden costs, and it’s not always easy to take back control. After all, since the service providers want to discourage customers from getting out, there’s usually something of a vendor lock-in in the form of data egress fees. Data egress refers to outgoing data which, in this case, is data being migrated from one cloud service to another, an on-premises device or to another region operated under the same service provider.

Unsurprisingly, uploading data to the cloud (data ingress) is usually free. However, when companies want to move anything out of the cloud, they’ll typically be charged data egress fees. Fees are charged on a per-gigabyte basis, with multiple fee brackets meaning that cost per gigabyte is reduced once you reach larger data loads. Nonetheless, the costs can still run into thousands of dollars per month, which can be crippling for any small business that relies heavily on data.

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31

Jan

2018

Data Egress Fees Can Cost You – Here's What You Can Do About It

Ask any group of enterprise IT managers why they migrated to the cloud and most of them – if not all – will cite cost-savings. The cloud represents a new standard for enterprise applications, with Forbes reporting that 70% of all organizations have at least one app in the cloud as of late 2016. 90% of all organizations today are plan on running apps in the next few years.

The picture is clear: clouds save businesses money. However, although the cost-savings may be readily apparent when comparing cloud services to on-premises infrastructure, how do cloud providers match up with one another? What should customers look out for beyond the standard monthly subscription price?

Introducing Egress Fees

Most cloud service providers discriminate between various types of data transfer. Just like an international call costs more than a domestic one, so too does transferring data from your cloud to some far-off external destination. The fees for transferring data outside your cloud network are called data egress fees.

Data egress is the opposite of data ingress – transferring data from within your cloud to a destination also within your cloud – and most providers don't charge for ingress, but place a premium on egress.

For example, Google charges $.12 per GB for the first terabyte of data egress towards most destinations outside its servers. Amazon charges $.09 per GB for the first 10 TB of data egress. It's easy to see that any business relying on large transfers of data can quickly find itself overwhelmed with fees.

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24

Jan

2018

Cloud Management – Colocation Needs Explained

Colocation Services Improve Speed and Reliability

One of the main obstacles to using major cloud provider services is that most do not offer colocation services. Colocation is the ability to integrate client-owned assets and data with the existing cloud infrastructure – essentially keeping the most business-critical data elements at arm's reach.

Neither Amazon nor Microsoft allow for colocation services, so data uploaded on their cloud networks may end up residing in servers very far from the workstation handling the data. As physical distance increases, so does loading time and connection unreliability. The inability to have client-owned (or third-party) assets reside on their cloud networks is a serious disadvantage in terms of speed and cloud dependability. For enterprises that already own and operate their own data centers, colocation is the heart of the hybrid cloud strategy. For businesses just entering the field, local third-party colocation service providers can make space for clients on their infrastructure, ensuring that the most often-used data is available locally.

Enterprises are moving their mission-critical deployments to colocation servers for two primary reasons:

  • Data Center Design Improvements: New advances in data center design have made outsourced colocation more cost-effective than building a dedicated data center. Colocation providers can offer power, space, and cooling at prices that individual companies cannot match.
  • Increased Computing Demands: Virtualization and the continuing drive to handle ever-greater workloads puts a strain on purpose-built data centers. Retrofitting an older facility is far more expensive from a Total Cost of Ownership perspective than using colocation services – even in the long-term.

This is an enormous advantage for companies that need to make large amounts of data immediately accessible in different physical locations – large enterprises and government institutions, for example. The only other alternative would be building and staffing several distributed data centers in different geographical regions at great expense.

How Colocation Ties into Cloud Management

John Hall, Head of Portfolio at Atos UK/Ireland, asserts that most organizations fail to effectively manage their cloud deployments. He says that the combination of re-positioning existing IT departments to use cloud services and the fact direct executive-level communication occurs exclusively with cloud service providers creates loss of visibility. C-suite decision-makers effectively, "don't know what they don't know".

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17

Jan

2018

Uniform Policy Keeps the Hybrid Cloud Secure

Hybrid cloud services are becoming increasingly popular among enterprise-level businesses, and with them come security concerns unique to the hybrid cloud infrastructure.

According to a study by Avanade, 75% of C-suite executives believe that hybrid cloud integration should be the main area of focus for their company in 2017. At the same time, cloud security spending is expected to grow from $24 billion in 2016 to $26.4 billion in 2017.

This growth is sure to attract the attention of the global cybercrime industry, which is experiencing a surge in growth year-by-year. In 2015, there was an average of 1,000 ransomware attacks per day, and in 2016 the rate had ballooned to 4,000 attacks per day, according to a joint report by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service. The WannaCry Ransonware attack of 2017 affected over 200,000 victims, and a security hole in a public cloud service exposed voter information of over 200M Americans. In 2017 and beyond, enterprise-level businesses and institutions should expect massive cybercrime growth.

Cybersecurity for the Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud technology offers enormous benefits to enterprises and large organizations. However, keeping hybrid cloud data secure presents unique challenges. Hybrid cloud service providers and clients need to work together to form reliable and secure strategies for data protection.

The main security goal for the hybrid cloud is configuring and maintaining a uniform policy across the entire cloud network – easier said than done, in most cases. To begin building a robust cybersecurity policy, enterprises must clearly define the following processes in a cloud processing-friendly way:

  • Infrastructure Policy: A hybrid cloud infrastructure policy needs to carefully delineate what processes and services occur on the private cloud and which ones occur on the public cloud. Geographically-relevant colocation processes need to be outlined as well. Without this policy, cloud management quickly degrades into a data free-for-all that is difficult, if not impossible, to secure.
  • Firewall Rules: Firewall rules become more complex as internal and external network connections are added to hybrid cloud infrastructure. Web application firewalls need to be customized for each environment in the cloud and narrowly focused for each. Incoming traffic needs to be forced through the firewall in environments where multiple subnets may allow firewalls to be bypassed.
  • IPS Signatures: Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) signatures need to be constantly updated cloud-wide. New threats appear on a disturbingly regular basis, and signature-based inspection is one of the most effective cybersecurity methods currently available.
  • User Authentication: User authentication remains one of the most common points of exploitation used by cybercriminals. Two-step authenticatio
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