6 Benefits of Moving to a Cloud-Based Infrastructure

What is the cloud?  

The cloud refers to servers that run on the internet rather than a local physical server. This system allows you to access data remotely. A few examples of cloud services are Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Microsoft OneDrive, to name a few.  

What is a Cloud Infrastructure? 

A cloud infrastructure is much like a physical/on-prem infrastructure. A Cloud infrastructure mimics things like servers, switches, storage, etc. Computing, networking, storage, and virtualization make up a cloud infrastructure.  

What are some of the benefits of a business moving to the cloud? 

  • Increased Security 
  • Cost Savings 
  • Disaster Recovery 
  • Reduced Risk 
  • Collaboration across teams 
  • Better Accessibility 

Increased Security 

One of the most beneficial aspects of the cloud is security. Unfortunately, no matter who you are, you are at risk from hackers, malware, phishing, and other cyber-attacks. Moving to the cloud can add an extra layer of support for your important data.  

  • When you store a file in the cloud, your files are encrypted, which means the files are difficult for cybercriminals to access.  
  • The cloud provides consistent and regular patches, reducing malware infection risk. 
  • When a business has critical data, it is far safer to keep that information off-site.  
  • With the cloud, it is easier to maintain compliance requirements. 

Cost Savings $$$ 

Cost is a significant factor when businesses decide to move to the cloud or not. Therefore, looking at the initial cost of making the migration and all the benefits of a cloud-based infrastructure is essential. For example, 98% of organizations say a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000 https://www.the20.com/blog/the-cost-of-it-downtime/#:~:text=According%20to%20Gartner%2C%20the%20average,hour%20at%20the%20higher%20end.  

Disaster Recovery  

Disasters happen; we all know that. Unfortunately, downtime for a business can be one of the most costly challenges a company faces because it leads to a loss of productivity, revenue, and reputation. With a cloud-based infrastructure, your business can recover far quicker than you can if a physical server fails. 

Reduced Risk 

When your data is stored in physical hardware like a computer or server, it is at a greater risk of loss. For example, if the server fails or the computer dies, you might not be able to get your data back. Things like viruses, age, and natural disasters can all cause hardware to malfunction. In addition, they can also be lost or stolen, posing a security risk.  

You can access your data from any computer anywhere when you store your data on a cloud-based server.  

Collaboration across teams 

The cloud allows employees within the same organization to share information and collaborate on documents or other important company data. For example, with SharePoint, four employees can be working on the same document simultaneously, and the most recent version will be saved and accessible to all employees who have access.  

Better Accessibility 

Since the start of the pandemic, many businesses have decided to allow their employees to work from home part-time, if not 100% of the time. The cloud enables employees to access their company’s network from anywhere. In addition, they can access critical files and data from anywhere, increasing productivity and efficiency.  

Five Reasons Why SMBs will invest in an MSP in 2022 

As times change, business owners need to adapt. Here are some reasons why an SMB may be considering an MSP

1. Modernizing IT 

As SMBs move to modernize their IT, they don’t have the expertise to keep up with the complexities of managing and maintaining their IT environment.

2. Employee Growth

Despite the pandemic, many organizations are growing rapidly. But unfortunately, some can’t keep up with the growth. For example, they can’t continuously upgrade and install the number of endpoints, onboard new employees, or educate them on the best security practices.  

3. Not enough IT support

Many SMBs do not have an internal IT employee, and one of their employees must take it on as an extra job responsibility which decreases productivity. If they do have an IT employee, they often are faced with more pressure than they can handle alone.

4. Outside threats

 Over half of businesses have faced some type of financial cyberattack in the last year; most SMBs don’t have the resources to combat these risks internally.

5. Compliance

Compliance is a tricky concept for most SMBs. Working with an MSP can help them adhere to the often changing regulations.

Since most businesses rely nearly entirely on the internet to perform their day-to-day operations, an important goal for SMBs is to strategize and prioritize digital transformation. Unfortunately, this is no small task and can be very overwhelming for SMBs. However, a Managed Service Provider can take on the entirety of IT management, allowing them to mitigate risk, get the best return on their technology investments, and educate their employees.

If you are interested in learning more about how Now Micro can help you manage your IT more effectively, or you’d be interested in receiving a free network assessment, reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com or check out our website.

The Consequences of a Cyberattack on SMBs

Nearly every company relies on the internet for its business operations, which means almost every company is at risk for a cyber-attack. In last week’s blog post, we discussed why Cybercriminals are targeting SMBs, but what are the consequences of falling victim to a cyberattack or data breach for SMBs?

Downtime

After a cyberattack, an SMB is likely to face significant downtime, which means their employees cannot do their jobs. While one can expect revenue to take a substantial hit from downtime, employee productivity usually is the most significant consequence. Employers are still required to pay their employees, they may be missing deadlines, and downtime may cause excess stress on their employees.

The cost of downtime = minutes of downtime x cost per minute.

Damage to hardware 

In the event of a cyberattack, malware, or data breach, not only is your data at risk, but it can also cause damage to your hardware such as PCs, Servers, and more. In addition, the repair or replacement of hardware can be very costly.

Fines and penalties

Legal and regulatory requirements seem to be constantly changing, which can be very overwhelming for a business owner. However, business owners must comply with these rules and regulations, and when they don’t, they are subject to fines and penalties costs.

Damage to reputation and loss of customers

When a company falls victim to a cyberattack, their customer data is often compromised, leading to a loss of customer trust, which leads to customers taking their business elsewhere. Data breaches also hurt attracting and obtaining new customers when the news is public.

High costs

In the event of a cyberattack, an SMB is likely to experience downtime, damage to hardware, fines and penalties, damage to reputation and loss of customers, and more. Each of these consequences has its own cost, and sometimes it is enough for a business to close its doors for good. Forbes states that the average cost of a single data breach on an SMB is $149,000. Additionally, 76% of SMBs have experienced a cyberattack in the last 12 months.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: It is no longer a question of if your business will be the target of a cyberattack, but when. Can you afford the consequences of a data breach?

Working with a Managed Service Provider can help you better secure your network and prevent cyberattacks from happening. To learn more about our managed services, visit our website or reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com.

Why are SMBs being targeted in cyber-attacks?

Did you know that small to medium-sized businesses are potentially more vulnerable for cyber-attacks than large businesses? With the growing complexity of IT challenges, it’s crucial to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats and how to protect your business.

A Foot in the Door

Cybercriminals target SMBs because they are often a foot in the door to hacking into larger companies. SMBs are often vendors for larger entities and may have access to online portals and the banking information of these companies. Cybercriminals go for SMBs because they are likely to have weaker cybersecurity practices, making their vulnerable information, customer data, intellectual property, and financial data easy to compromise.

What to look out for

Every year, cybercriminals are advancing how they target their victims, which can be tricky to spot. Below are the leading causes for security breaches:

Weak and Stolen Credentials/Passwords

Hackers will take any opportunity to steal weak passwords from organizations. The key is to have a policy that requires strong passwords that include eight characters, at least one upper case letter, one number, and one special character.

Back Doors & Application Vulnerabilities

Sometimes software applications are poorly written, or network systems are poorly designed. These may have holes that cybercriminals can easily exploit and get your data directly without needing a password. The way to prevent this is to make sure software and network systems are up to date and properly patched.

Malware

Malware is software loaded unintentionally that a hacker can open up and exploit a system through. The key to avoiding malware is never downloading anything from questionable websites or opening suspicious emails.

Social Engineering

Have you ever received a fake email saying you’ve won a million dollars? That’s what social engineering is. It’s easy to evade cyber-attacks from this tactic as long as you know that if something looks too good to be true, it is.

Insider Threats

An angry employee or unaware employee can cause harm on your networks if given access to data. The simple solution to prevent this is to ensure that you keep your data backed up and your permissions up to date.

Physical Attacks

Hackers don’t always sit at home to commit cybercrimes. They can break into your building and use your computers to find secure data. Make sure your physical structure is protected to prevent a security breach.

Improper Configuration

Sometimes mistakes can be made when configuring systems, so it is essential to triple-check and have multiple people look at the work to keep errors minimum.

There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started on securing your company’s data. One of them is working with an MSP, like Now Micro. To learn more about our managed services, visit our website or reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com.

The Future of SMBs

Modernizing technology and increased cybersecurity practices will be top of mind for small to medium business (SMBs) owners moving forward. Despite the pandemic, many SMBs expect growth over the next few years, which means an increase in employee headcount and revenue. This news is great; however, as employee headcount increases, so does IT usage and complexity.

According to ConnectWise, 48% of SMBs plan to upgrade their IT systems in 2022. In addition, over half are looking to make collaboration easier for employees working in the home and the office. While most companies are not shifting to a 100% remote policy, many are adopting a permanently hybrid business model. These policies include implementing new in-office practices to increase productivity and collaboration.

One of the biggest trends among SMBs is cybersecurity and migration to the cloud. Benefits of the cloud include limited downtime, delays, more flexibility, and an additional layer of security. In addition, cybersecurity and migration to the cloud help create a seamless hybrid work environment.

Here are six reasons for SMBs to invest in cyber security:

1. Protecting company data and intellectual property

2. Protecting customer privacy and financials

3. Compliance with rules and regulations

4. Growth of mobile users

5. Protection of physical assets

6. Digitalization of business operations

SMBs face more challenges than ever, growing IT complexity, lack of resources, new working environments, cyber security threats, lack of IT knowledge, and compliance overload. Luckily, SMBs owners don’t have to take on all this pressure alone. Managed Service Providers can efficiently manage IT remotely while educating their clients on best practices. As a result, an MSP can ensure that SMBs get the best return on their technology investments.

If you are interested in learning more about how Now Micro can help your SMB get the most out of their IT, contact me directly at sydneye@nowmicro.com, or check out our website for a free network assessment!

4 Reasons to Conduct a Network Assessment

Q1 is a great time to check IT systems and determine how to revamp them for the year. Performing a network assessment is essential when gauging areas for improvement. A network assessment looks at disk & memory utilization, BDR sizing calculation, warranty summary, device stabilization requirements, software and device inventory, active directory user list, and much more. Read more to find out how a network assessment can help your organization.

1. View a detailed and comprehensive report and analysis of your company’s existing IT infrastructure.

If you’re seeking out a network assessment, you are likely trying to learn everything about your organization’s system and see where you’re succeeding or where you’re falling short. A network assessment will look at network performance, security protection, server/storage performance and determine which issues are network-related or user-related. It’s essential to get a comprehensive report on your network so that you can catch hard-to-find errors and fix them.

2. Create a strategy for your IT systems and people.

You’ll likely be working with a managed service provider to execute a network assessment, which will benefit you. A managed service provider has a team of IT experts to gauge the network assessment results and then offer guidance. MSPs, such as Now Micro, work with a variety of clientele and will be able to customize their offerings based on what your organization needs. Once the strategy is in place, your IT issues will be solved in no time.

3. Discover money-saving opportunities.

By filling in the gaps of your IT strategy, you are saving time and money. For example, most IT management is protection, prevention, and modernization. These new changes will save your organization from an IT disaster and save resources that would have been used in recovery and fixing errors.

4. Get an explanation for C-suite Executives.

Sometimes C-suite executives need raw data to convince them to approve significant upgrades. A network assessment will lay out all the data you need to get them on your side. As stated in Reason #3, the improvements may be a high cost upfront, but over time, the company can save money by keeping their IT up to date and not constantly paying for repairs when disaster hits.

If you would like to have a network assessment of your organization’s IT infrastructure, visit Now Micro’s managed services website and click on the “Free Network Assessment” button to get started or email our Managed Services point of contact, Sydney Ellison, at sydneye@nowmicro.com.

New Year, New Managed Service Provider?

The beginning of the year is a great time to ask yourself, “Do my employees or I have any frustrations with our current IT support?” If the answer is “yes,” it may be time to change.   

Luckily, you have plenty of options to consider that improve your IT support and day-to-day business. 

Maybe you have an internal IT employee or team, or you are already outsourcing your IT, but your current provider isn’t cutting it. 

Let’s take a look at your options…. 

First, we want to understand what a Managed Service Provider is. 

An IT MSP is a technology provider that essentially takes on the responsibility and manages all or some aspects of your internal technology. 

Some of the services an MSP can offer: 

  • Network Monitoring 
  • Help Desk 
  • Cyber Security 
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery 
  • Cloud Migration & Management 
  • VCIO 
  • Email Solutions 
  • Etc. 

Inadequate IT support can negatively impact your business in many ways (employee satisfaction, productivity, revenue, etc.) 

Here are some tips for making the switch to a new MSP: 

A Smooth Transition 

Whether you are going from one MSP to another or are adding extra support to your existing internal IT team, it is crucial to focus on good communication. 

You will want to know everything your current team has been operating. Things like how many devices they manage, each service they provide you with, or any tickets created. This will allow your new MSP to understand the support you need and provide you with an accurate quote and plan. 

Another thing to figure out is who owns what hardware. Sometimes, an MSP will lease hardware out to their customers for a monthly fee. Other times, they sell them devices so that the customer owns them. Make sure you are returning devices if necessary. 

Finally, make sure you understand the contractual obligations between your business and your current IT provider. For example, an MSP will often require 30, 60, or 90-day notice. Also, make sure you know the SLA (service level agreement) you signed at the beginning of the partnership, so you aren’t slapped with cancellation fees. 

Choosing The Right MSP 

If you are looking to switch to a new MSP, it is important to understand what isn’t working with your current IT team. Where are they falling short? Bring these concerns to other potential partners to see how they compare or if they can meet your needs. 

Figure out the model that works best for you. An MSP can offer either an all-you-can-eat model or al a carte model. An all-you-can-eat model typically includes every service they offer, whereas the al a carte model is more customizable to the specific needs of your business. 

Questions to ask a potential MSP: 

  • What do their pricing models look like? 
  • Can they meet all of your requirements? 
  • What is the contractual agreement? 
  • What does implementation look like? 

Closing thoughts 

IT support can make or break a company, so it is vital to have a partner that understands your business and needs. Luckily for you, there are many options out there. It is just about finding the one that works best for you and your employees. 

If you are interested in receiving a free network assessment to better understand your network health, or you would like to learn more about how Now Micro can help you manage your IT, visit our Managed Services page. 

5 Reasons You Should Consider Outsourcing Your IT

There is already so much unpredictability when running a business, but IT issues don’t have to be a part of that. Managed service providers can remotely monitor your network 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure you experience as little downtime as possible.

Here are 5 reasons you should consider outsourcing your IT:

1. Cost

Many small to medium-sized businesses expect that outsourcing their IT is unnecessary and not worth the cost. However, most companies are surprised to learn that they usually save money by outsourcing their IT.

When switching to an MSP, your cost is a flat monthly rate. A good MSP will offer an a-la-carte solution rather than a one-size-fits-all model because each business is different and should be treated as such. This way, you can decide how much or how little support you will need.

When your IT is managed in-house, and something breaks, you likely will be faced with the “sticker shock” attached to the solution. If something breaks, that is worked into the monthly cost with an MSP, meaning no surprises.

2. 24/7/365 support

One of the most significant issues small to medium-sized businesses face is the lack of support when they need it most. If something goes wrong, it can take a lot of time and research to figure out how to troubleshoot the issue and get back up and running.

With a managed service provider, businesses have IT support at all hours of the day, including non-business hours.

3. Productivity & Time Saving

Many small to medium-sized businesses do not have a dedicated IT employee, and when they do, they are often faced with more challenges than they can handle on their own. Sometimes, an employee takes on IT work as a second job function, which takes away productivity.

If you have a single IT employee, and something goes wrong, maybe they can fix it, but what if more than one thing goes wrong at the same time? Or what if it takes hours or days to resolve the issue, and your company can’t perform its main objectives?

Working with an MSP is a sure-fire way to ensure your employees are focused on what is most important, their jobs. They can even prevent issues from occurring. Even when a problem does come up, your IT provider can get you back up and running in record time.

4. The Highest Level of Cybersecurity

There are many ways to improve your cybersecurity in-house. Some of the things you can do are educate your staff, require password changes, implement two-factor authentication, install a firewall, and ensure your anti-virus software is always on the latest update.

However, as cybersecurity practices get better, the threats get more robust by learning to work around these practices. An MSP can constantly monitor your network and systems for threats and vulnerability, sometimes preventing an attack before it even happens. Therefore, it is imperative to work with an MSP to ensure you have the highest level of security possible.

5. Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity 

One of the biggest headaches for business owners is system and hardware failures that lead to data loss and put their data at risk. It can take hours to days to get back up and running, and even worse, data is at risk of being lost forever!

Working with an MSP gives you the best chance at recovering data and reducing downtime.

Closing thoughts: 

Running a business comes with a lot of responsibility and risks. Utilizing an MSP can benefit your organization in many ways by relieving you from the many headaches associated with IT. This way, you can focus on what is most important, operating your business.

If you’re looking for a managed services provider you can trust, look no further than Now Micro. Our goal is to provide services and solutions for every aspect of your technology needs. From end-users to enterprise data centers and up to the cloud, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website to learn more.

How to Prevent Cyber Attacks in 2021

It makes sense that Cybersecurity Awareness Month falls in October. One of the scariest things a business owner faces is the fear of falling victim to a cybercrime.  So, what are the business implications of a cyber-attack? Loss of data/intellectual property, damage to reputation, loss of productivity, increased expenses, lawsuits, and more. 

Here are some facts:

In just the last year, cybercrime has increased by 40%.

60 % of cyber-attacks are targeted at small – to medium-sized businesses.

But… only 30% of small- medium-sized business owners consider themselves “very concerned” about ransomware.


Hackers who once went after the Targets and Amazons of the world are now going after smaller businesses who likely don’t have the necessary tools or support needed to prevent & recover from cyber-attacks.

Unfortunately, it is no longer a question of if your company will fall victim to a cyber-attack, but when, so it is imperative that your business invests in quality cyber support.

Some of the things you can do internally:

  • Require regular password changes
  • Implement two-factor authentication
  • Make sure anti-virus software is up to date
  • Install firewalls
  • Educate your employees on best practices

These are all great ways to add an extra barrier of protection to your network, but the best way to prevent a cyber-attack from occurring is to outsource your cybersecurity support to a managed services provider. Today, we have security threats coming at us from every direction. A good MSP can monitor your network 24/7, 365 days a year to prevent attacks before they happen. If a cyber-attack does still occur, they will have a team of experts in place to make sure you recover as quickly and painlessly as possible.

As Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to an end, it is important to make sure cybersecurity remains a priority all year round. If you are curious about where your network stands in terms of security threats and/or other IT-related issues, reach out to me at sydneye@nowmicro.com to schedule a free network assessment. Visit https://www.nowmicro.com/managedservices to learn how Now Micro can become your managed service provider.

#BeCyberSmart