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Here’s what’s trending in the world of SMB

If you run a small or medium-sized business, you want to be up to speed with the latest tech, trends and best practices that enable your organisation to stay productive and grow, right?

This month we cover a range of bases, including security, the rise of chat apps, real-time banking payments and consumption-based IT – a pay-as-you-go model that promises SMBs greater flexibility in the way they access infrastructure, software and services.

WannaCry not dead

If you thought the threat of WannaCry ransomware had disappeared, think again. According to cybersecurity and antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab, WannaCry is still alive and kicking and being distributed by malicious parties. Their latest IT threat evolution report details that in Q3 2018 the ransomware accounted for nearly a third of all Trojan attacks globally. Although the threat is greatly reduced in 2019, SMBs still need to make sure their operating systems are updated with the latest security patches. It is also essential to educate your staff about current cyber threats and how to avoid them.

Get paid in real-time

Tired of waiting for your clients’ payments to come through? Say hello to improved cash flow for your SMB with the New Payments Platform (NPP) – where money transfers will now settle in under 60 seconds. Electronic payments currently take up to three days to process. The new system is rolling out nationally in 2019, and will allow anyone to transfer money to an external account without entering a BSB or account number. Simply create a ‘PayID’, such as your email address, phone number or ABN to authorise a payment. This is much easier to remember than the combined account number and BSB. Check with your bank if they have implemented the new system so you can benefit from making and receiving real-time payments.

Interact with clients on chat apps

People are increasingly wanting to message a business, instead of calling or emailing. So if your SMB sells goods or services, you need to be on these platforms. Apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp Business are two of the biggest players in this space, allowing you to interact with people personally while providing lightning-fast customer service and driving sales. Facebook Messenger allows you to customise welcome messages when a user begins a conversation, while with ‘Saved Replies’ you can program answers to common client questions.

Pay-as-you-go IT

How does your business pay for its IT services and infrastructure? Chances are you pay a fixed cost to a provider for your services and may well have invested in your own on-premises IT infrastructure. Say goodbye to all that with consumption-based IT – a pay-as-you-go model where you only get billed for what you use. This flexibility can give you the agility to grow your business by deploying and scaling initiatives rapidly. It also reduces or eliminates the upfront costs of purchasing physical IT assets – something that can hamper growth for a smaller operation.

Creative tool for your branding

Last but not least, if you are branding – or rebranding – your SMB and want an accessible design tool to help you get this done, be sure to check out Canva. The Australian-made web-based design tool uses a simple, intuitive drag-and-drop interface that is super simple to use – so forget about confusing, expensive software and designers. Subscribe to their Canva for Work option and you get additional tools over the freemium version, including team folders, a custom brand kit and access to millions of stock photos.

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WINDOWS SERVER 2019! COMING SOON

Windows Server 2019 is the operating system that bridges on-premises and cloud. It maximizes existing investments, and further expands on the strong base of Windows Server 2016 with key innovations in security, applications, and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) capabilities to enhance customers’ on-premises investments with hybrid cloud solutions.

Windows server 2019! coming soon
Windows server 2019! coming soon

Windows Server 2019 OEM licenses will soon be available from HPE to pair with new HPE ProLiant servers, storage, and networking offerings. HPE OEM Windows Server licenses offer many advantages over other licensing types as they are affordable, customized, optimized for HPE ProLiant servers, and include 90 days of free HPE support.

Learn more.

2019 – Four major trends that are shaping the future of IT

Four Major Trends for IT Solution Providers to Watch in 2019 Including Emerging Technologies and the Growth of Edge Computing.

As 2019 gets under way, IT solution providers should keep an eye on technology and business trends that are shaping the future of IT. The channel is undergoing major changes as the vast majority of businesses – 89%, according to IDG – is either implementing or planning a digital transformation strategy. Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI) are at the center of these implementations.

As customers invest in these technologies, IT solution providers need to be able to support them, which requires making investments of their own to learn about the technologies and how to sell and service them.

In 2019, the IoT and edge computing will assert themselves, while next-step technologies such as AI, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), bots and blockchain will be knocking at the door. IT solution providers should be watching these developments and adjusting their business models to manage the necessary infrastructure and applications.

IoT and Edge Computing

Trend #1: IoT and Edge Computing

The IoT has been lurking for some time, but implementations perhaps have taken longer than expected. Compatibility and security issues are partly to blame, but as vendors introduce bundled IoT solutions and invest in security, IoT will quickly gain traction. By 2022, worldwide IT spending on the IoT will actually surpass the 1 trillion mark according to IDG.

As the IoT expands, so will edge computing. Edge computing sites are where many of the IoT’s real-time processing and analytics will occur. For IT solution providers, this potentially creates vast opportunities to provide backup power management and remote UPS monitoring and management services at the edge.

Emerging Technologies

Trend #2: Emerging Technologies

On the heels of IoT and edge, expect serious advances in AI, VR and AR. A lot of these emerging technologies will work hand in hand to disrupt business models and create competitive advantages. For instance, information captured by IoT sensors will be processed and fed into AI and machine learning engines to automate business processes.

Machine learning already is used widely in cybersecurity, and AI is powering advanced robotics in manufacturing and warehousing. AI is also starting to appear in marketing functions, such as chatbots. IT solution providers can play a role in these technologies by deploying and managing the systems that deliver this functionality.

Industry_Application_Focus

Trend #3: Industry Application Focus

Demand for industry-specific applications will grow in 2019 and beyond. With IoT and AI making significant inroads into IT environments, the need for specialised software will increase. According to CompTIA’s 7th State of the Channel report, this creates plenty of opportunity for IT solution providers. “Many cloud-based internet software vendors (ISVs) are developing discrete applications tied to specific industries. These are often small firms lacking a large-scale sales operation and eager to grow. As a result, many are beginning to experiment with indirect channel partners to grow their footprint and penetrate various customers segments.”

Channel_Specialisation

Trend #4: Channel Specialisation

Hand in hand with the application focus is the need for IT solution providers to specialise. “Customer demand for a technology provider with vertical industry skills and applications knowledge is on the rise,” CompTIA said in its report. IT solution providers are answering the call, as nearly two-thirds have embarked on a vertical specialty to meet demand and stand out from competitors. “Embracing a niche specialty in retail, healthcare, or other sectors will deliver a proven competitive advantage.”

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Vulnerability & Security Assessment

BlueShield Vulnerability and Security assessment

Vulnerabilities that may exist across your systems and applications can create an easy path for cyber attackers to gain access to and exploit your environment. With dozens and even hundreds of applications and systems across your environment with access to the Internet, maintaining and updating system operating systems and applications to eliminate vulnerabilities is paramount – especially when those applications and systems are tied to sensitive customer or cardholder information.

Vulnerability Assessment service is designed to identify critical flaws in your network that an attacker could exploit. Our testing methodology uses an non-invasive data collector on your server. Depending on your network infrastructure our  approach can be an iterative, multi-phase process by which we assess the security of your network and systems. We use commercial and publicly available tools, as well as custom scripts and applications we have developed.

BlueShield offers vulnerability assessment services to address:

Achieve Compliance

Vulnerability Assessments help your organisation meet your periodic compliance requirements.

Evaluate Your Network Security

BlueShield vulnerability Assessments help your organisation test for vulnerabilities and gaps in your network security so you can enhance your security posture.

External Vulnerability Assessment Testing 

BlueShield can perform remote, external testing of your environment for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an outside attacker.

Internal Vulnerability Assessment Testing

BlueShield can perform a vulnerability assessment to evaluate your internal systems, applications, and internal corporate networks.

Our Security Vulnerability Assessment methodology has been designed to comprehensively identify, classify and analyse known vulnerabilities in order to recommend the right mitigation actions to resolve the security vulnerabilities discovered.

Our Methodology

  • Project Set up
  • Data Gathering
  • Scanning Tools Set-up
  • Conduct Vulnerability & Security Scans
  • Vulnerability Research & Verification
  • Report Creation & Project Close-out

What We Deliver

Vulnerability Assessment final report will incorporate all information security control area findings. The report includes the following sections:

  • Summary
  • Summary of findings and recommendations
  • High-risk findings and recommendations for remediation
  • Prioritisation of remediation recommendations for high-risk findings

So what now?

Enquire today to book your Assessment!

Hyper Converged Datacentre

What can a hyper-converged datacentre do for your Business?

Hyper-converged datacentres are taking virtualisation to the next level. They offer greater simplicity and scalability to meet business needs. Are you in?

Virtualisation is all about pretending. In a datacentre, a cluster of computers can pool their grunt and pretend to be a single “virtual” machine such as your file server.

Think of that virtual machine like a Boeing 747, with all four engines combining their thrust to keep the plane in the air. If one engine fails, then there’s a drop in overall thrust but thankfully your mission-critical plane doesn’t fall from the sky.

Datacentre virtualisation is also about flexibility. You can easily replace that troublesome engine mid-flight, or even spin up a new plane and transfer the passengers without skipping a beat. Your file server stays in the air, and the business isn’t grounded.

So what is a hyper-converged datacentre?

Here your virtual servers are managed by an underlying layer of virtualisation which pools all your hardware.

Our fleet of 747s now shares a pool of jet engines, with the pilots more interested in available thrust than the performance of individual engines. If an engine fails, or a plane demands extra grunt to handle a heavy load, you can easily redistribute your thrust across the fleet.

Of course, plenty of datacentres run multiple virtual servers on a single pool of hardware. Those that rely on pre-configured bundles of computing, storage and perhaps networking hardware from a single vendor are generally called “converged” datacentres.

In a “hyper-converged” datacentre you have a cluster of appliance-style nodes rather than bundles of hardware handling different roles. The nodes are modular appliances that combine x86 computing, storage and networking in a single box. The software combines the nodes to build the resources it needs, and you can manage every aspect of the datacentre from a single console.

Now our 747s don’t just pool jet engines. Instead entire planes are built from a pile of standard blocks rather than custom parts. The software builds each plane and reconfigures the fleet as required. Need more resources? Simply tip more blocks into the pile and the software builds what it needs.

What are the pros and cons of a hyper-converged datacentre?

Hyper-convergence lets you upgrade your datacentre hardware in bite-sized chunks. Making small hardware upgrades as required can help you break free from the big bang refresh cycle, where you spend up big on datacentre capacity every few years and hope it will tide you over until the next major upgrade.

That said, the all-in-one nature of hyper-convergence appliances can make upgrades expensive if you’re only chasing more storage and not computing power, or vice versa. Another downside is you lose the freedom to mix and match the hardware, as you’re locked into hyper-converged architecture from a single vendor. Some vendors only sell pre-configured hyper-converged boxes, while others work with hardware partners and can let you tweak box configurations to best suit your needs.