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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

How to Maintain Data Integrity in a Business Setup?

Everybody, every day and everywhere is flooded with large volumes of data. This is most apparent and significant in the business sector. Who is worried and why should anybody actually pay attention to the business data? The fact is that data formulate the framework for all business operations. In order to run a thriving business irrespective of its niche, data management plays a significant role in the overall success equation.

In all probability, if you are reading this blog you are an integral part of such a business; consequently, you must be careful about your business data.

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What Exactly Do You Understand by Data?

If you ever ask distinct people this very question, you are likely to obtain varied responses from all of them. Some of the standard definitions are provided below: Figures and facts that are accumulated for reviewing and analysis. Things referred to as facts, which form the base of reasoning, computation and making decisions.

Still finding it hard to understand? A good illustration of business data is “the amount of merchandise sold by a company in the northeast region in the previous business quarter.”

Why is Data and its Credibility Crucial for Businesses?

Who is concerned in case the data available is inaccurate or if perhaps the all-round quality is lousy? Data quality is also known as data integrity. It is managing and retaining the accuracy and uniformity of the data over its complete lifecycle. Data integrity implies that the data available is correct and dependable. At numerous stages in work life, all the employees of the company have to make essential business decisions as a part of their job and commitments and such decisions play an important role in the deciding a company’s fate thereafter. In a lot of business firms across the globe, there exist areas where crucial business decisions are regularly made depending on the available data.

Business Performance Measurement: Constantly evaluating the performance of the business against its overall objectives and the competitors is essential for being successful.

Managing and Delegating Resources: Having the right resources in the right places at the right time focusing on the right project is essential. Not doing so is unfavorable and can provide the competitors a heads up.

Customer and Client Satisfaction Management: Happy customers and clients are crucial for a business success. Be it in the form of feedbacks, visitors on the site, and so on data must be consistently gathered and assessed to ascertain that the customer demands are satisfied or surpassed. Possible inadequacies or constraints in company's services and products must be brought to the front and addressed before the competitors learn about the same.

As stated above, dynamical real-time data with substantive credibility makes it possible for the business decision makers to get a clear picture of the company’s overall performance in the industry as well as against the competitors at any time. Getting correct and dependable data for conversion into information in order to make vital, fast or effective decisions is an important business function.

Strategies for Maintaining Your Company’s Data Integrity:

It is one thing to determine what actually is meant by data and the reason why its integrity is essential. It is an all-together different thing to systematically collect and manage it. At higher-levels, businesses commonly gather data by means of a variety of techniques like the following:

The Website of the Company: A usual practice is gathering data from a business website by means of page views and mouse clicks, a get in touch with us segment, a request for quote segment, a blog segment, a service or product purchase (shopping cart) segment, and so on.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Platform: An ERP platform is a business management program that incorporates a number of aspects of a business, such as project and service planning, production process, material acquiring, inventory management, supply, accounting solutions, financial management, human resources, sales and marketing, and so on. Data is accumulated from manual or automated data entry.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform: A CRM program is a business management software that deals with communication and connections with existing customers, potential buyers, and affiliates etc. It supports departments like sales, marketing, customer support and service. Data is collated from automated or manual data entry processes. Integration between an ERP and CRM program is furthermore very beneficial and can put a stop to data silos, superfluous data and general reliability on poor data.

Back-end Database: In the background, usually exists the database. Front-end programs like websites and CRM/ERP platforms are connected with databases. Data entered into the front-end programs move into and is saved in database on the backend. It is in this place where data extraction takes place and, thereafter that data is analyzed with the help of several techniques.

Author Bio:  Alika Cooper works a Business Development Manager at Cogneesol, a well-renowned company offering Data Management, technology, accounting and legal services. She has been working with Cogneesol for the past 10 years and is responsible for generating sales for the Data Management division.

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Data Protection Best Practices for SMBs

Data protection comprises of a mix of services, all poised to ensure that IT environments do not experience data loss, data leakage and downtime. Data protection technologies hold a special place for Small to Medium sized Businesses (SMBs).

Importance of Data Protection for SMBs

As businesses grow they rely on digitalization and the data generated, as a result. Data can be classified into different types Data Protectionsuch as mission critical data, frequently accessed data, infrequently accessed data and archival data. Each type presents its own unique storage requirements and challenges. The most important type of data among this chunk is mission critical data. This is the type of data that fuels all of the processes of the IT environments of a business. If this data is lost or compromised, the business experiences an outage or downtime.

Outage or downtime tends to be very costly for businesses; they incur financial repercussions and reputation damage. If an SMB does not have adequate data protection technology and techniques, then they are more susceptible to data loss or downtime and in turn financial costs and reputation damage. In the worst case scenario, an SMB may not even recover from it.

That’s why data protection technology is very important for businesses and especially SMBs.

Now the question is “What are Data Protection Technologies?”

What are Data Protection Technologies?

The major part of data protection technologies can be severed into two: Backup and disaster recovery. Backup and disaster recovery technologies are sometimes confused with one another; however, the two are very different.

The comparison between the two is an explanation for another time but the concise difference is that backup is meant to prevent data loss in all its entirety; while disaster recovery services reduce downtime by prioritizing the restoration of mission critical data.

Data Backup Options for SMBs

Data backup options for SMBs can all be summed up in two major types: Cloud backups and On-premises backups.

On-premises backups require SMBs to acquire an infrastructure, set it up and then endure the dynamic costs of maintenance, power, cooling costs and an IT professional or a team that manages the infrastructure for them. The plus side to on-premises backup appliances is that they deliver reduced latency; if an IT environment is focused on faster data flow, then backup appliances are probably the better fit.

Cloud backups enable SMBs to acquire backup services without the acquisition of infrastructure and without initial costs. Cloud backup service providers deliver pay-as-you-go payment models. Instead of commissioning a backup infrastructure that has storage resources which sit idly until they’re used; SMBs can acquire the storage space that they need with cloud technology and then scale up later to add more space.

The most well sought after attributes of cloud technology are scalability and cost effectiveness.

The downside of cloud backups is that each time a backup file is retrieved, the process incurs charges. This requires detailed management of the backup and restore processes; otherwise, cost efficiency is compromised.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) Options for SMBs

Similar to backup solutions, disaster recovery solutions also come in two major forms: on-premises disaster recovery and cloud disaster recovery.

On-premises disaster recovery solutions comprise of an infrastructure that replicates data using combinations of technologies like data replication technology and snapshot technology. Disaster recovery solutions tend to be quite expensive because they need optimized technology to reduce RTOs (Recovery Time Objectives) and RPOs (Recovery Point Objectives) as much as they can.

Cloud disaster recovery solutions are less taxing and less expensive than on-premises disaster recovery solutions. However, as with all cloud based services, latency remains an issue. For IT environments that cannot tolerate latency, on-premises disaster recovery technology is the better option.

Till this point, we are now familiar with backup and disaster recovery technology and we know why data protection is important for SMBs.

Let’s explore some data protection best practices for SMBs.

Best Practices – What SMBs should do to efficiently protect their data

Before indulging in the best practices, I’d like to mention here that each business has their customized data requirements. This implies that what’s best for one IT environment may not be for another; one shoe does not fit all. It’s better to scrutinize your data requirements before setting up data protection solutions.

With that in mind, here’s a general set of recommendations pertaining to data protection for SMBs.

Setup a Hybrid Solution – Cloud and On-premises

Instead of setting up a single on-premises or cloud based solution, I recommend setting up a hybrid data protection solution that uses both of them.

Initially, acquire a backup appliance for all your backup purposes and setup cloud disaster recovery services with it. As the data grows, you can either scale-out the appliance or you can set it up with a cloud based service. The compatibility depends on the appliance and the vendor. It is important to make sure that the desired services are being offered before the acquisition of the solution.

The initial setup will accommodate all the SMB’s data requirements and as the requirements increase, the SMB can use cloud connect services or cloud gateway appliances to tap into the cloud and utilize the different storage tiers offered by major cloud service providers.

With this setup, SMBs can have a scalable solution that’s optimized to address all their data requirements and is cost efficient. This sort of a setup is basically future proof; SMBs don’t have to worry about future expansion.

The cloud disaster recovery service will ensure that downtime is reduced while keeping the cost implications in check.

That sums up my insight about the subject. What’s your take on it? Comment below and remember to share with other professionals.

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Microsoft shows IT how to get bigger bang from Windows Analytics

New documentation, still in draft form, details how companies can craft specialized reports and custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data and integrate the data with other info.

By Gregg Keizer

Senior Reporter, Computerworld | Apr 10, 2018 9:19 AM PT

 big data analytics analysis thinkstock 673266772 100749739 large

Microsoft has published preliminary documentation that enterprise IT can use to customize reports generated by the free Windows Analytics service.

The documentation, emblazoned with "Draft," spelled out how internal staff - or Microsoft partners in the business of producing custom solutions - can craft specialized reports and build custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data, and integrate its data with other information for more in-depth analysis.

Windows Analytics is the umbrella label for three separate services - Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance and Device Heath - which each pull from the telemetry Microsoft collects from Windows PCs. Windows Analytics is a benefit of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education licensing, and so is available only to customers running those editions.

The services offer insights for devices powered by an Enterprise or Education SKU (stock-selling unit), such as Windows 10 Education or Windows 7 Enterprise.

Of the trio, only Upgrade Readiness harvests data from Windows editions other than Windows 10. As its name implies, that service identifies the Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs most likely to successfully migrate to Windows 10. Upgrade Readiness also pinpoints Windows 10 systems that have the best shot at moving to the next feature upgrade, like this year's 1803 or 1809.

The remaining two services, Update Compliance and Device Health, report the update deployment status of Windows 10 PCs, and monitor and report on some of the most common problems on an organization's devices, respectively.

While IT administrators can generate reports from the Windows Analytics dashboard, the advanced functionality can be accessed using the now-documented APIs (application programming interfaces) and called with the ready-to-use examples (or PowerBI templates). Or the examples and templates can be rigged to do custom jobs.

"There is also an underlying data platform that can be used by IT admins, partners and ISVs [independent software vendors] to extend the built-in functionality and unlock additional value," the documentation says.

Because Windows Analytics' data is stored in Azure Log Analytics, using the API requires knowledge of the underlying Analytics data schema, and knowing how to retrieve that data from Azure Log Analytics, Microsoft said.

Customers who do create custom reports or alerts, or merge Windows Analytics' data with their own, will have to redo that work down the road, Microsoft noted. "Disclaimer: This [data] schema is subject to change as breaking changes will be introduced in the next year, so any queries you create will need to be forward ported at that time," the documentation said.

 

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The Ultimate Comparison: Data Science vs Analytics

Data Science vs Analytics

 

Depending on how much you know about big data, you may be surprised to learn that a data scientist and a business analyst don’t provide the same results. If that’s the case, then you’re not alone—since these two professions are often confused with one another. That’s why Analytics@American, a masters in business analytics, created this infographic to help clear the data science fog.

Both business analysts and data scientists are experts in the use of data, but they use their expertise in different ways—as is evidenced by the current job outlook with business analysts in much higher demand than data scientists.

Typically with educational backgrounds in specialties like business and humanities, business analysts tap into the data within a variety of sources to evaluate past, present and future business performance. Then they explain those results to the business users who need them with the analytical models and approaches that are most effective for that situation.

In contrast—with a strong educational background in computer science, mathematics and technology— data scientists use statistical programming to actually develop the framework for gathering and using the data by creating and implementing algorithms that support their efforts. Such algorithms help with decision-making, data management, and the creation of visualizations to help explain the data that’s gathered.

To learn more about the differences between data scientists and business analysts, check out the infographic to make sure you’re hiring the right type of professional to meet your unique business needs.

analytics skills infographic lg

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GDPR: Who Needs To Know And What They Need To Do

GDPR

Christine Ashton

It’s beyond debate that data is one of a company’s most valuable resources. The total revenue from online advertising in 2014, for example, reached US $49.5 billion, the majority of which is based on users’ personal and demographic information to show more relevant messages. The direction of travel since then has only been in one direction.

The European Union’s new law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), focuses on controlling the use of individual persons’ private information and ensuring that it can be protected. If your company violates the regulation, you could face penalties of as much as 4% of your annual global revenue or €20 million, depending on the details and severity of the violation.

To avoid incurring substantial fines, businesses need to plan well in advance on how to deal with the requirements of GDPR. Although the details may vary from one organization to the next, the roles and perspectives listed below are some of the most important for your company to take into account.

CEO and board of directors
These people will mainly be interested in GDPR’s impact on their business processes. This means performing a top-to-bottom review of the relevant personal data that you handle.

CEOs and the board of directors may also want to understand the cost-effectiveness of their data strategy. Are you collecting and access more personal data than necessary? If so, check into reducing this amount. Continuing to accumulate silos of unused and potentially toxic data increases the need for encryption, and therefore will require more investment.

 

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Webinars: Do Clients Really Need SaaS Application Backup to Keep Their Data Safe?

SMB Nation Webinar Thursday, December 8th, 2016 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PST

Presented by: Harry Brelsford CEO at SMB Nation, and Martin Merrell Senior Sales Engineer at Storagecraft

There are 7 ways you can respond to the question, “Do my clients really need SaaS application backup?” All of which have become famous last words:

  • Since my data is already in the cloud, it is already backed up and safe
  • We have good, highly trained admins and users and very efficient systems
  • If we need something, we just put in a request to the application vendor
  • No one would ever want to hijack my data, we are too small to be a target
  • Our people are careful and would only throw away incorrect or outdated files
  • We comply with all necessary government or agency policies and regulations
  • We can get what we need, when we need it, and in the original format

In this webinar, you will learn exactly why these phrases are famous last words when it comes to keeping SaaS data safe and readily accessible after a disaster, but more importantly, you’ll learn the easy steps you can take to avoid their disastrous consequences.

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IBM Introduces Integrated Power Systems Solutions to Support SAP HANA

IBM announced today a set of integrated Power Systems solutions for the SAP HANA platform designed to process high volumes of data efficiently for both transactional and analytic workloads. IBM logo1

"The commodity servers used today by many organizations are increasingly stretched to their limits by new workloads, in the cloud or on premises," said Doug Balog, general manager of IBM Power Systems. "IBM's Power Systems' architecture is uniquely suited to provide faster access to critical business data stored with in-memory database technologies. New IBM Power System Solution Editions for SAP HANA are tailored to deliver enterprise-class capabilities to clients' growing core systems reliability expectations."

This announcement furthers the IBM and SAP partnership, SAP CTO Quentin Clark said. The integrated solutions are expected to enable POWER8 servers to run SAP HANA.

More information on the integration is available here.

P.S. Be sure to attend our online Office 365 connected conference, June 2-3. No travel, no hotel, no traffic! Sign up at getconnected.o365nation.com

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MegaPath Launches Any-to-Any Broadband Managed Failover Services

MegapathMegaPath Corporation has launched its “any-to-any” Broadband Managed Failover services. The new product complements MegaPath’s Failover service released in June of this year. MegaPath’s Managed Failover services provide customers with a high-availability, cost-effective business continuity solution for maintaining critical business operations in the event that their primary data connection is disrupted.

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