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Category: IT

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How Desktop Virtualization Enhances IT Capabilities

Virtualization of desktop computing capabilities is helping to make IT more of an asset for businesses and in many cases, enhances the capacities of individual employees within an enterprise context.


Let’s take a look at how and why these advantages are important.




Desktop virtualization solutions from companies like Dell make it easier for IT departments to deliver access to a full range of corporate resources to large numbers of people on short notice. Because data management is centralized in a virtualized system, traditional desktop hardware is not relied upon to provide the kind of computing capabilities that employees require.


Additionally, the systems being used by a team of employees within a virtualized network can be upgraded in one fell swoop rather than on a piecemeal or case-by-case basis. Software upgrades, therefore, can be introduced more regularly as virtualization makes IT departments more flexible and responsive.




At the current level of enterprise strategy and IT capabilities, virtualization offers what can be very valuable flexibility. A company can expand the scope of their IT applications quickly and across their entire workforce in direct response to market demands or increased competition.


Utilizing a virtualized desktop infrastructure means that IT ambitions and ideas can be acted upon much more rapidly than with traditional technologies, and in a much more comprehensive fashion. Even crucially, these kinds of fresh IT deployments can also be scaled back just as quickly, which means associated costs can be closely controlled and kept as low as possible.




Virtualizing desktops and the associated centralization of corporate data has the added benefit of making IT issues easier to troubleshoot as they arise. The enhanced visibility of an entire infrastructure means that even a single IT expert can resolve problems that might emerge and present problems for corporate users.


Where once a desktop failure would require an expert to be dispatched and scrutinize the hardware, virtualization provides the convenience of having network problems being resolved remotely and precisely.




Shifting desktop functions from traditional hardware and networks to virtualized alternatives also means that businesses are automatically ready to alter the number of people using their IT systems. With a virtualized setup, taking on and empowering new employees needn’t be a cause for concern in terms of IT expenditure as costs can be very closely managed and solutions very easily deployed.


Dell has a host of desktop virtualization solutions available. To find out more about these or any other Dell products, head to the website at


Cloud Operations Analytics Improve IT Efficiency

We hear a lot about the benefits that big data and cloud platforms can bring to businesses.


The ability to collect and process vast amounts of information gives enterprises the power to engage with the real world in ways that have historically been extremely difficult, providing insights that can lead to new business opportunities and a deeper understanding of market conditions. But, one area where cloud-based analytics does not tend to get the attention and investment it deserves is IT operations.


The agility and responsiveness of IT deployment is crucial for modern businesses. Technology infrastructure is a significant cost for all large-scale businesses. Any savings that can be made on the overall cost of that infrastructure can be a big win for IT departments, but figuring out exactly where the inefficiencies lie can be a tricky proposition.


In fixed physical infrastructure deployments, it is only ever possible to proactively manage infrastructure deployments in fairly coarse iterations, such as predicting growth trends and mesh deployments with foreseeable shifts in requirements signaled by other business operations. However, reactive shifts in line with hourly, daily, or weekly trends are well beyond the capabilities of physical hardware deployments. This leads to inefficiencies, because either too little or too much money is being invested, resulting in wasted capacity or lost business opportunities.


In a world that combines cloud platforms and big data analytics, the situation is much different, offering a felicitous combination of data, analytics, and programmatic control that gives IT operations departments the ability to proactively shape their deployments to meet real-time and historical use patterns.


More Data


We’ve always been able to make use of server logs and other data to plot traffic and demand for processing and storage, but cloud platforms enable a much increased flow of data. We can see, in real time, the waxing and waning of resource demand across cloud deployments, which gives businesses powerful insights into usage patterns that can be used to inform operational planning.


Cloud Platforms Empower Analytics


As we’ve discussed before, the cloud is a powerful enabler of big data analytics, providing the perfect platform for the filtration and analysis of the large volumes of data that sizable cloud deployments can generate.


Reactive And Programmable Platforms


All of this data, analytics, and insight are largely useless if we can’t act on them. Fortunately, that’s exactly what the cloud enables. With physical hardware, it is not possible to fluidly modify deployments in line with data-derived insights. The cloud, on the contrary, provides effortless expansion and contraction of resources, avoiding the problems of idle resources or missed business opportunities, both of which can cost serious money. The ability to programmatically manage cloud deployments via their APIs offers the potential for automated operations management where deployments reactively respond to data provided by cloud analytics systems.


Cloud hosting platforms and cloud-based operations analytics offer a powerful synergy that can help businesses more efficiently manage their infrastructure deployment and resource expenditure.


Lifting the Ban on Dropbox

Dropbox can put organizations at risk by not having adequate security controls, increasing the chance of security breaches.


In one incident, Dropbox email addresses were successfully hacked and then used to send Dropbox users spam.Many enterprises are not prepared to take the necessary risk and are forbidding the use of Dropbox making it the number one banned application according to a survey by Fiberlink.


Dropbox introduces security risks by not including the necessary authorizations that are required as part of healthcare and financial regulations. For example, Dropbox is typically not integrated with an organization’s DLP (data loss prevention) solution that ensures that only authorized users transfer files and that sensitive data, such as credit card numbers and patient data doesn’t leak from the organization. Dropbox also does not include a full audit trail of which files were transferred, when and by whom, as well as who downloaded the files.


Once the data resides in Dropbox the risk continues. This data might remain on the cloud forever without any control or monitoring. Hackers are aware that Dropbox can contain important data and often make breaching Dropbox a high priority target and they will do whatever it takes to access this information.


Dropbox is not the only collaboration solution that can be more easily compromised. Other cloud file sharing solutions such as Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive have similar limitations.


Dropbox keeps coming back


Based on Dropbox’s vast scale — it boasts 200 million users with business users quadrupling in recent years — users are not likely to volunteer to give up using Dropbox on their own.


When users need to collaborate with business partners, remote users and customers, file sync and share services such as Dropbox are easy to use, offering a good alternative to the organization’s email systems which in most organizations don’t enable the transfer of large files (10MB and over).


There are other proprietary solutions available as an alternative to Dropbox, but they often add a level of complexity which users resist when they are under pressure to transfer a file.  These procedures include encrypting passwords and requiring recipients to install specialized software.


Using Dropbox Safely


Rather than replacing Dropbox, another layer of security can be added to existing file transfer procedures that would enable organizations to control which files are uploaded to Dropbox, and who has authority to share these files. An open solution that integrates easily with existing security tools of the organization such as DLP, Anti-virus and authentication systems would enable all data shared to undergo authentication, data scanning and data encryption.  These additional precautions significantly reduce the chances that data shared using Dropbox will be compromised.


Such a system would also include a full audit trail of who transferred which files, enabling compliance in the healthcare, insurance and banking industries and meeting over a dozen regulations including PCI-DSS and HIPAA. Providing additional checks and balances can also be used for automated file transfers. This enhances IT productivity and reduces operational costs by streamlining business processes which were previously done manually using standard file transfer solutions. Perhaps the most significant benefit is that files can be shared easily among partners, suppliers and customers, without requiring additional software or procedures on the receiving end.


The simpler the solution, the greater the chance that employees will use it. If they are required to change their habits too much there is always the risk that they will be tempted to go back to using Dropbox unprotected. By using security systems which add functionality to make Dropbox more secure, employees can do their work with the least amount of disruption, giving IT managers’ peace of mind knowing that their sensitive corporate data is well protected.


IT Risks of Toolbars

Toolbar add-ons are a type of browser extension that typically provide users with various additional functionalities by adding a bar with several buttons within the browsers, oftentimes along with a search box as well.


Toolbars may also have features for altering the user’s homepage, allowing searches of third party sites (e.g. Amazon, eBay, IMDb), and modifying page scripts or the html page display. Although toolbars can provide advantages to the user, IT administrators often do not want toolbars to be installed on the computers in their network; toolbars can introduce various non-monetary costs as well as create risks for enterprise networks.

The “costs” and risks of toolbars


Screen Space:


Every browser toolbar takes up browser page space. More toolbars means less space for the browser to display the website page content. In some extreme cases, up to 80% of the browser view has been occupied by the “toolbar armies.”




Each toolbar increases the amount of memory which is used by the browser. Web browsers consume significant memory when loading complex or scripted pages. Installing a few toolbars on the system may consume additional amounts of the computer’s physical RAM and slow things down considerably.




Most toolbars are embedded into the browsers and collect private data. Even reputable toolbars from companies like Google have this behavior. One of the Google Toolbar’s “extended” features sends certain information back to Google. If the computer belongs to a private intranet system, and it accesses internal content through a web browser, installing a toolbar is introducing a risk that sensitive information could be compromised to the outside world and interferes with the user’s ability to safely view and access data.


Viruses and spyware:


Toolbars can function as an entry point for malware to gain access to your “secured” systems. Since users rarely have the ability to verify the complete list of toolbar behavior, some publishers could simply use them to collect anonymous information about browsing habits, network usage and login accounts. In some case, toolbars could be used as a “Trojan horse,” concealing viruses inside the installation package. Even in the cases of non-malicious toolbars from reputable providers, the toolbar still represents another network exposed surface potentially vulnerable to attack, one that is likely much less tested and secured than other internet facing software.


Determining whether a toolbar may be malicious


Toolbars generally do not provide as much value as the cost and risk they introduce, but this does not mean that all toolbars are malicious or dangerous; some of them are just annoying and introduce inconvenience. So how can users or IT administrators determine whether a particular toolbar is a malicious one? Here are some clues to look for:


  1. Degradation of speed: you notice the computer is functioning slower than usual.
  2. Unfamiliar buttons: you find unknown buttons or other unexpected features have been implanted inside your browser or inside web pages rendered by your browser.
  3. Hijacked homepage: you notice the browser homepage has been modified without your knowledge.
  4. Modified Hosts file or DNS settings: you realize the URL address is no longer pointing you to the expected website.
  5. Annoying popups: you receive a lot of unwanted popups, fake advertisements or sometimes system errors while you are surfing the internet.
  6. Strange search engine: you notice that when you are doing a search request, the return result is not from your expected or preferred search engine, and not from a provider such as Google or Microsoft Bing. It may constantly redirect you to pages which contain unexpected results unrelated to your keywords.
  7. Deactivation of phishing protection: you notice that even though your browser’s anti-phishing protect option is enabled, your computer is not getting any security alerts from the browser when you visit suspected phishing sites.
  8. Loss of sensitive information: you realize some of your personal information related to credit card accounts or insurance information has recently been stolen from your computer.


If any of these occur on your system, the installed toolbar may be malicious. Based on the costs associated with the toolbar and potential risk involved, you may want to uninstall the toolbar from all associated browsers as soon as possible.


10 Steps to the Perfect Home Office IT Setup

1. Choose the right hardware


Computer hardware refers to physical elements such as computers, servers, printers and your choice of this has a significant impact on how you work.


Sometimes spending a little more can save you thousands of pounds over time by increasing productivity, but sometimes a cheap and simple solution is the best.  Before purchasing any computer hardware, speak to a trusted expert (or possibly more than one) so you match your needs and budget precisely.


2. Software for success


There are a huge number of software packages tailored for business success and so selecting the right ones can be daunting. Most businesses need to at least consider the following: operating system (e.g. MS Windows 8), Email, Word processing and Web Browser. In addition, other useful software to consider is a PDF reader (as many documents are sent in this format), accounting package and possibly a desktop publishing package (for producing professional looking documents).


The key to choosing software is to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. For example, you don’t need an accounting package if you are outsourcing your bookkeeping. And remember, there are some packages that can be downloaded for free, such as Open Office, or that are provided with other services (e.g. when you open a new bank account you might be offered a free accounting package)


3. The name is in the domain


Your domain name is what usually appears in the website address after the www and is also used in the second part of your email address (after the @ symbol). As these are often the first “branding” a prospect sees it’s important to make the right impression. It’s also worth noting that it can help play a part in your search engine rankings which in turn can help promote your business, so select this carefully.  A domain name that is not being sold by an existing company can be registered for just a few pounds so don’t be stung for hundreds or even thousands unnecessarily.


4. Website wonders


It is not necessary to spend thousands of pounds on a feature-packed website when you first start out, but a holding page with your contact details and some basic information is a must. Most domain hosting companies such as Go Daddy and 1&1 come with basic online web design functionality.


5. Security


It’s vital for any business to ensure that its computer systems are secure and the data kept safe; in fact most companies couldn’t operate if they lost their business data. The key actions to take to ensure your systems are secure are:


  1. Install and use anti-virus software
  2. Keep your software up to date with the latest patches – they often fix loop holes that viruses use
  3. Don’t open attachments to emails unless you are sure what they are and who they are from.
  4. Use strong passwords – at least 8 characters using letters, numbers and other symbols like !, $, etc
  5. Install a firewall and ensure it’s set up correctly
  6. Make sure you have a backup


6. Broadband basics


If your business relies on the internet, then you need to ensure you have a broadband service that is dependable. Many small businesses simply look for the cheapest option and that usually translates to a broadband package designed primarily for residential use. Business broadband packages generally offer a more reliable and more secure service.


Choosing the right package can be daunting but many internet service providers (ISP) now offer exclusive packages that address many of the concerns about running a business online, or being reliant on the internet for information or communication purposes.


7. Support – who are you going to call?


Who are you going to call if things go wrong? You can’t afford downtime and inefficient working so make sure you put in place quality IT support.


8. Backup Basics


Most businesses understand how vital it is to protect the data on their computer systems. Yet despite this, a recent survey shows that less than 50% of SME’s routinely back up their data. And half of all companies that do lose their data go out of business overnight.


Unfortunately many businesses don’t realise the importance of backing up until it’s too late.


A comprehensive back up system for a PC or laptop can be put in place for a monthly fee that is little more than the cost of a cup of coffee so there’s no excuse. It could be the most important investment you make.


9. Sorting Spam


Spam accounts for 45% of all e-mails and costs business world-wide a total of $20 billion a year in lost productivity and technology expenses, according to the Radicati Group, a market research firm in Palo Alto, CA -Wall Street Journal.


Most email packages come with a reasonable level of spam filtering but if you find too much is getting through then there are more enhanced services that you can put in place.


However, remember that there is no true 100% definition for what spam is. It really depends on what the business or individual considers to be Spam. Any anti-spam filter has to adapt and learn about the individual users tastes and what Spam he/she wants to receive and what to discard. All solutions are a compromise between stopping unwanted intrusions and filtering email whilst ensuring business continuity. Speak to your trusted IT advisor for the best advice.


10. Print and Produce


All in one printer and copiers work well and are very affordable nowadays – you can purchase a great system for around £100. For those extra special documents it’s worth considering using one of the high street printers that provide a range of services for small businesses.


If you do a lot of printing and rely heavily on your printer then consider leasing – there are some excellent deals around for even the smallest business.


What is Changing in the Enterprise World?

I have argued in my last blog that if there is a single enterprise area that is fast being changed due to consumerization of IT and BYOD — it is the mobile enterprise.


Users want access to applications of their choice on any device. not just email. They also want the application to be customized, configured for their own individual and personalized mobile experiences quite different from the “one size fits all” model that enterprise IT has applied all these years.


Users want data and workflow of any enterprise app to be made available on any device and the ability to customize and personalize the workflow with other ready to use services and consume them on any device for a satisfying user experience. They also want this to happen with little time or cost. At the same time they want these applications to be of the same levels of security authentication, authorization and privacy fitting with Enterprise IT guidelines. In other words they want flexibility, with control. Enterprise IT clearly has a role to play here. To know how they can play we need to understand how one builds enterprise mobile apps in the new world.


How does IT build Enterprise mobile Apps today


Let’s examine the traditional approach to enterprise mobile apps: you build a web app and then retool and redesign and build native mobile app for a platform. There are the drawbacks to this approach:


  • Time to build for native is much greater
  • One has to build for each platform and there are too many of them.


The other way is to code your own HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript on the client side and code the server side (using tools like PHP, Ruby, Java, Visual, and then you still have to figure out providing access to the native hardware of the mobile device.


The drawbacks are:


  • The time it takes to write the server side in ROR, Php, Java etc.
  • The time it takes to write the client side code in JavaScript, CSS3, HTML5. Yes there are tools and libraries such as Sencha JQuery for rapid application development but it still requires significant time to integrate.
  • You still have to create the shell for access to native hardware functionality


How can we do it better?


The challenge is to accommodate the “work anywhere, anytime” productivity and user satisfaction benefits that consumerization of IT and BYOD can bring, while retaining enough control to keep company data secure and compliance requirements satisfied. The difficulty is in building business apps that run on the web AND on all the major mobile platforms in all the form factors, and user interfaces in a cost effective and timely fashion. This is where traditional approaches break down – more time and more money and still works on a single platform. The problem is compounded with the difficulty in recruiting people with the requisite talent.


We looked at mobile apps in native mode and HTML5. The third approach is to use the newly emerging low footprint, automated cloud platform to create, transform, configure, customize and manage mobile experiences in real time and no code. This is a better suited approach in a world converged by mobile, cloud and social. This is where the UI and app-logic are manufactured and emitted to devices at run time for a rich optimized performance, anytime, anywhere.


Here even a user can shape the mobile experience with a design palette offering all the services that enterprise IT will allow the enterprise user. It is a departure from traditional approach of enterprise IT awarding the job to an offshore service to reprogram and recode the application to a newer model that involves Enterprise IT as both change agent and cheer leader of a newer platform for rich experiences to accelerate the mobile enterprise.


The steps are simple. Focus on the one part that is unique to each enterprise application i.e. its data and workflow. Make sure that it can work on any device in a simple and optimized way. That procedure is by integrating the mobile cloud platform with the existing enterprise application using the integration studio and the workflow orchestration engine. The process is to let the cloud platform to connect to the web application that has to be mobile enabled, auto extract the workflow, integrate with other workflows/ business functions of the user’s choice, mobile enable the composite application, package security, manageability for enterprise use, and consume on any device. There is no HTML code, no native code, no scripting. One such platform is MoNimbus™ , with it you have end applications for mobile web and native platforms in real time and no code.


The Importance of Online Desktop and the Involvement of Cloud Computing in the US Healthcare System

Virtual desktops are not a new technology. They have been around for a few years now. However, with the advances in cloud computing, the virtual desktop infrastructure is now moving towards hosting data in the cloud rather than on local data centres.


The role of online cloud desktops is increasingly important for sectors like health care and medical recording keeping. Online cloud desktops do not require upfront infrastructure development as the backend technology is outsourced. Also known as “Desktop as a Service” or DaaS, online cloud desktops score over traditional virtual desktop setups by reducing costs and complexities. Perhaps a significant advantage lies in the security framework of cloud computing. In the case of a failure, cloud hosted desktops can secure data and get back online much faster.


Remarkable Remote Access Software:


The benefits of cloud computing are harnessed by remote access software. The remote access software can now be housed in USB drives which allows for multiple desktop accesses from one central location. In other words, “headless” computers can allow for centralized access and control. With advanced features and connectivity options, remote access software creates the backbone of any successful cloud computing system. Online cloud desktops coupled with remote access software provide for a sustainable and scalable health care solution.


Rapid Technology:


Cloud computing underpins the rapid technological advances seen in network management over the last few years. Premised on innovation and rapid change, cloud computing is the future of all record keeping systems. While security and privacy issues may prevail, these can be sorted out to ensure seamless, quick and efficient access to crucial and sensitive medical records of patients or allied information.


The Electronic Medical Recording System:


Electronic Medical Recording systems are slowly moving towards cloud based setups. Resource pooling, on demand access, rapid elasticity and broad network access ensure that cloud based record keeping is here to stay. With the ease of use and advantages it offers over traditional methods of medical recording keeping, the online cloud desktop is going to play a vital role in the future. Around 15% of US healthcare system is using cloud based services to allow multiple device data access. The availability of medical records instantaneously improves the efficiency of doctors as well due to easy comparisons with past records.


Healthcare Recording Systems:


The use of cloud computing to further enhance the US healthcare recording system is a given. Some of the concerns that are raised include that of data security and privacy of patient records. It is suggested that patients be made aware of their data records shifting to a cloud setup. The Health Information and Management Systems Society or HIMMS is global non-profit organization working on integrating information technology with healthcare systems. Organizations like HIMSS can play a significant in role in establishing the importance of online desktop and cloud computing within the US healthcare system. With a dedicated focus on technology interventions in the healthcare systems, the future of health services is bound to change for the better. These developments will significantly reduce waiting lines, delays, medical emergencies and costs to hospitals and other institutions. Cloud computing will usher in a new phase for the medical fraternity and provide a long lasting healthcare solution.


Mobility Impacts Enterprise IT

Trends shaping IT


Massive trends are reshaping Enterprise IT. It is buffeted by a converging storm of mobile, social and cloud such that, a decade from now, the Enterprise IT world is going to be a very different place. Trends like BYOD, BYOE, “Bring your own whatever” will have changed the role of the enterprise user as a designer and consumer of IT services, with devices acting as smart endpoints in a programmable hub on the cloud of apps and services.


Enterprise IT is at the cusp of change and it could be a decade-long wave of change, as those changes have ramifications far beyond the server room. It demands changes in the ways we account for in Enterprise IT from Capex to Opex, to business processes, to regulatory frameworks. It also means changes to security, user interfaces, design, development tools — to the entire suite of applications, tools and services that make up the modern IT department.


We will see a change in the way software is built, in the way apps are architected, in the way apps are delivered, paid for, and managed — and in the way everything is managed. With internal and client facing services at the heart of everything, the familiar enterprise world of licensed apps for B2C, B2E, B2B will be very different — it would be a world where the professional and the personal are blending, and where context, location, speed and user experience will determine what apps will succeed at any time, any place and on any device.


Renaissance for Enterprise IT


It’s clear that what is needed for an enterprise, and an enterprise user is a fast route to shaping, configuring and customizing the app experience on any device anytime and anywhere instead of what Enterprise IT hands over for access on the desktop.


Now we are in the era of the Consumerization of IT (COIT) and BYOD, where individual workers and business departments are supposed to be able to access business functions on any device. They should be able to rent hardware and software, the virtual machines, the applications, the storage capacity, the big data processing capacity, and so on.


The area of IT that is quickly being impacted is the mobile enterprise apps segment. Findings of recent surveys by Citrix and Mobile Helix indicate that 70+ percent of enterprises view mobility as top priority for their businesses. Users want access to the applications of their choice on any device, not just email. They also want the applications to be customized and configured for their own individual and personalized mobile experiences — quite different from the “one size fits all” model that Enterprise IT has applied all these years.


Users want the data and workflow of any enterprise app to be made available on any device, with the ability to customize and personalize the workflow with other ready to use services and consume them on any device for a satisfying user experience. They also want this to happen in real time, with little time or cost. At the same time, they want these applications to be of the same levels of security authentication, authorization and privacy fitting with Enterprise IT guidelines. In other words, they want flexibility, but with control.


Enterprise IT clearly has a role to play with mobile enterprise apps, albeit in a shared decision model with the business user. The ideal state is when a business user can make these choices without IT’s knowledge or approval. However, we have not reached that stage yet, and may never. In fact, Enterprise IT will always play a role to select, install and maintain apps, servers, networks and, going forward, select, source and maintain services. Better still, they have a role to create an enterprise mobility strategy. They may do this in a shared decision model with the enterprise user unlike the lone wolf model of the past decade.


Mobile enablement within enterprises will lead them to become the custodian and cheerleaders of the mobile enterprise app store. It’s about a vision using mobile technologies to change or transform enterprise business processes and work flow. It’s about a strategy to improve the top lines and bottom line of an enterprise through a shared decision making model with business users. Enterprise IT will keep in mind that it is by employing smarter experience through mobile enterprise apps that results in smarter workers and a smarter, sustainable enterprise.