RDX VP of Delivery Strategies and Technologies, Chris Foot, and Azure Solutions Expert, Jim Donahoe, teamed up to present April’s RDX Insights Series webinar, Migrating SQL Server to Azure SQL DB.
RDX VP of Delivery Strategies and Technologies, Chris Foot, and Azure Solutions Expert, Jim Donahoe, teamed up to present April’s RDX Insights Series webinar, Migrating SQL Server to Azure SQL DB.
RDX kicked off its first 2018 RDX Insights webinar with Migrating On-Premises Databases to Cloud Systems.
Continue reading ICYMI- Migrating On-Premises Databases to Cloud Systems
Unlocking the power of business intelligence (BI) is reaching a whole new level with the deployment of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Microsoft’s Power BI software. Power BI already uses AI to help users gain more insight into their enterprise’s business information. It can even ask the questions users didn’t know they ought to ask. Continue reading Microsoft Power BI Gets an AI-Driven App Update
Healthcare providers are no strangers to data security. When it comes to HIPAA, for example, they’ve long known how important it is to keep patient information safe and secure from prying eyes.
With so much hospital information now stored in digital form, primarily in databases, the need for strong hospital data security has never been greater. But what are the risks of database intrusions? And how can hospitals make sure their databases are as secure as possible?
Database Security Risks for Hospitals
Practically all the information hospitals collect, store and use exists in any number of databases. Everything from patient information (EHRs) to patient satisfaction systems, lab processing to employee records, financial results to billing and payment processing – most any application you find at a hospital runs on a database.
With that massing of data comes a certain amount of risk, much of it unexpected. Hackers have been diligent in their search for structural weaknesses they can exploit in databases. The Office of Civil Rights reports that, in 2015, more than 112 million patient records were compromised. Cybercriminals continue to try to gain access to healthcare records, which they see as a valuable commodity.
One of the more recent trends is the abundance of ransomware, which cybercriminals use to hold data hostage while demanding a ransom that must be paid before the data is released. Some hospitals feel they have no choice but to pay the ransom – such as the nearly $17,000 one Los Angeles hospital paid in 2016 to regain access to its computer systems – or else suffer the dire consequences of starting over from scratch.
As more and more hospitals look to the cloud as a way to share data and streamline internal processes among their employees, cybercriminals are hard at work searching for ways to break cloud security and steal patient records and other data. Utilizing mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops can also create security issues.
How Can Hospitals Keep Databases Secure?
There are a number of best practices hospitals can follow to strengthen security around their database information. Here are a some of the most common:
Hospital data security should be viewed as part of an overall strategy for managing database information for the best benefit of the hospital. A knowledgeable and sophisticated DBA expert can help hospitals protect their data. A DBA expert can also help hospitals use this data for business intelligence (BI) purposes beyond the scope of each individual database application.
HIMSS, the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society, is continually helping healthcare providers evolve and stay secure through the use of information technology. RDX will be exhibiting at HIMSS18, taking place March 5-9, 2018, at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. We hope to see you there.
If you’re a healthcare provider and you’re not using healthcare business intelligence to drive your success, then you may be losing out on some important advantages. The benefits of business intelligence (BI) for healthcare providers are many.
Here’s why healthcare BI is growing and how it can positively impact your financial bottom line, improve the quality of your patient care, ensure healthcare security and aid in compliance with government-mandated regulations.
Not Just Big Data, But Massive Data
Healthcare organizations are producing and storing more data than ever before. From electronic health records to financial performance, from patient satisfaction results to industry health statistics, all this information forms a massive amount of data. Add to that the policy information from insurance companies and clinical trial results from pharmaceutical companies and you get what many experts describe as some of the most complex data warehouses on the planet.
Healthcare providers can use BI to process, present and analyze this enormous amount of data in meaningful ways. It can help them to track progress toward strategic goals, offering big-picture guidance that makes it easier to steer organizations in the right direction.
Skyrocketing Healthcare Costs
With healthcare costs rising at unprecedented levels, it has become increasingly important for providers to manage those costs. BI allows healthcare providers to gain more visibility into their financial operations, improving operational efficiency. It helps organizations monitor cash flow and make the proper adjustments to streamline it.
BI may also help healthcare providers identify services that are highly profitable or underutilized, generating the analysis they need to set pricing, control expenditures, allocate staff time and more easily process claims. BI can help organizations determine the effectiveness of their marketing efforts as well.
More and Better Healthcare
Per capita healthcare in the U.S. is among the highest in the world. With that expenditure comes an expectation for better outcomes from healthcare and higher patient satisfaction.
BI can help healthcare providers improve patient care and analyze quality and safety trends. It can offer information that allows providers to better manage logistics, such as patient flow in triage and optimal patient discharge times, making best use of bed space without sacrificing patient outcome. It can provide the evidence physicians need to make clinical decisions and to better monitor and predict patient diagnoses.
Federal health reforms have led healthcare providers to take regulatory compliance seriously, especially as more quality-based requirements are implemented. Complying with HIPAA rules concerning patient privacy and information security is particularly important.
To meet the demands of complex regulations, healthcare providers must have quick access to many different kinds of financial and patient data. BI can help collect, organize, analyze and present data to regulators, making it less likely that providers will be audited, sanctioned or otherwise fined for noncompliance.
Getting Expert Help with BI
A comprehensive BI strategy is essential for healthcare providers. While some organizations may think of BI as simply a pretty way to present data, it’s really much deeper than that. A sophisticated third-party BI administrator can more fully optimize the BI strategy of healthcare providers and give them the results they’re looking for in a BI solution. They can help healthcare providers drive real competitive advantage from their IT by providing the expertise, services and scale they need to optimize the business value of their mission-critical technologies
RDX – the #1 provider and pioneer of remote DBA services – offers Microsoft BI services to help healthcare providers leverage Microsoft’s industry-leading BI product suite, turning raw data into revenue. From strategic planning to production and beyond, our BI analysts are with you every step of the way, managing your solutions, empowering your success and maximizing your BI investment.
HIMSS, the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society, is continually helping healthcare providers evolve through the use of information technology. RDX will be exhibiting at HIMSS18, taking place March 5-9, 2018, at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. We hope to see you there.
Question: What do you get when you pair the largest networking company in the world with one of the premier cloud storage providers? Answer: Cisco-Google hybrid cloud services.
The two companies will be working together on a comprehensive solution to develop, run, secure and monitor customer applications and data. The Cisco-Google partnership will offer hybrid cloud services that allow customers to plan their cloud migration in accordance with their own strategies and within their own timeframes. It’ll prevent companies from being locked into expensive, outmoded or unmanageable systems. It’ll also help to maximize any investment companies make in cloud technology.
Bringing the Power of the Cloud In-house
Exactly what this solution will look like has yet to be detailed, but the goal of it is to bring the power of the cloud in-house. Once rolled out, developers and other IT professionals will be able to take advantage of Google’s secure cloud-storage tools, using them seamlessly to create applications within their own internal systems environment.
Both Cisco and Google have said that it’s important for customers to be able to take their networking and security capabilities with them when utilizing cloud resources. They say that any multi-cloud solution must also include support for customers’ policy requirements, as well as the ability to get real-time networking and performance data.
Managing Applications Like Never Before
Many companies rely on a combination of public and private cloud services, but there are significant differences between the two. Because of those differences, it’s difficult for developers to write applications that can move easily between environments. Developers must learn to operate in each environment separately. They’re not able, for example, to develop an application in the public cloud and deploy it in the private cloud.
Some applications belong on-premises, and some belong in the public cloud. But what if those applications could all work together? What if applications were able to extend across environments, where they can take advantage of applications and services housed in other data centers and clouds?
The Cisco-Google partnership will offer open-architecture hybrid cloud solutions that allow customers to better develop and manage applications either in-house or in the cloud. It will help developers to make use of open source platforms, such as Kubernetes and Istio, GCP Service Catalog and service mesh monitoring.
Cloud Expertise Gets Companies in the Game, Keeps Them There
The roll-out of the new hybrid cloud solution is expected to occur in early 2018 with a limited number of customers, followed by a full roll-out later in the year.
In the meantime, companies considering Google-Cisco hybrid cloud services would do well to consider taking advantage of the hybrid cloud expertise third-party database managers have to offer. Whether companies are considering the cloud or are already there, a knowledgeable DBA or cloud expert can help them get the most from their cloud investment.
RDX – the #1 onshore provider of remote DBA services – has the people, processes and technology required to speed and simplify cloud deployment, optimize assets and help you achieve business benefits faster. From needs analysis to production deployment, our cloud solutions help you successfully navigate every phase of your cloud journey. Once you’re in the cloud, we can help solidify your presence there with reliable, secure monitoring and administration services. Contact us today for more information on how you can make the cloud work for your business success.
Each year, more businesses turn to cloud solutions for storing business files – documents, spreadsheets, images, etc. As security in the cloud becomes stronger, especially through token and encryption techniques, business leaders have warmed to cloud storage as a way to cut costs, create efficiencies and take advantage of third-party expertise. Forbes estimates that, by 2018, at least half of IT spending will be cloud-based. Before business leaders move their company information offsite, there are a number of cloud storage pros and cons worth considering.
Why Businesses Store Files in the Cloud
Companies realize a number of obvious benefits of cloud file storage:
1. Cloud storage allows users to work wherever they are. Documents are shared seamlessly across office locations, facilitating better collaboration among staff. Employees can access information whether they’re at the office, at home or on the road. All that’s needed is a laptop (or other electronic device) and an internet connection.
2. It may save on company bandwidth. When files are routinely emailed back and forth, it can stress a company’s IT infrastructure. Like a crowded highway, it slows down traffic and creates storage challenges. Storing business files in the cloud, however, places the burden of keeping traffic flowing squarely on a third-party provider. Plus scalability can be accomplished almost instantaneously.
3. Cost savings are another big benefit of cloud storage. Cloud providers distribute storage and service costs across many businesses, passing much of the savings along to their clients. Storing files in the cloud enables most businesses to cut back on hardware and maintenance expenses, including labor costs.
4. When a business suffers a catastrophic event – a fire, natural disaster, data hijacking or total systems crash – cloud storage is a reliable way to manage disaster recovery. Files are stored securely offsite and can be easily and effectively replaced.
5. Most cloud storage platforms have the added benefit of applications and other tools that allow businesses to optimize their information. Many cloud providers make it possible for businesses to stream files (such as audio or video) directly to customers, upload and download content directly from mobile apps and websites, host and serve the static assets of websites, and run data analysis programshave developed business intelligence (BI) analytic tools that help companies sort, understand and use the big data they accrue throughout the course of doing business.
Considerations of Cloud Storage
Security has always been a top consideration when it comes to storing information in the cloud. Businesses with sensitive information may be especially concerned about public cloud security, as firewalls between company information and that of other businesses could, theoretically at least, fail.
Despite the improved security most public cloud providers demonstrate today, some data-sensitive businesses have resigned themselves to internal or private cloud storage of business files. A private cloud may be good for companies that have already established their own data centers, but it does require on-premises IT staff to manage it, not to mention the expense of maintaining hardware.
Other businesses prefer to use a storage service that’s fully administered by someone else but still has an increased level of privacy. These operate a lot like the other public cloud storage services but with one major difference: the data is encrypted and stored in a way that nobody except the business can access it. Even the employees of the service can’t access the files.
Some businesses are now using a hybrid of private and public cloud services. Certain files are stored locally, while other files are deployed to the cloud. A hybrid cloud solution must meet certain key requirements to make it work. For example, it must appear seamless to users. Hybrid clouds also depend on policy engines to define when specific files get moved into the cloud or pulled from it.
Cloud Storage Options
Cloud storage options are expanding rapidly, as more and more vendors enter the market. For storing flat files, businesses often look to Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure) and Oracle (Cloud File System and Cloud Infrastructure Storage) for various products or platforms that address their individual needs.
Companies looking for help in selecting, integrating and taking full advantage of these platforms might find it beneficial to engage a technology consultant. As the #1 onshore provider and pioneer of remote DBA services, RDX puts technology to work for business worldwide. From needs analysis to production deployment, RDX’s cloud solutions help businesses successfully navigate every phase of the cloud journey. RDX enables customers to fully leverage the inherent benefits of cloud architectures and assists them in overcoming some of the more challenging cloud activities.
Many businesses employ powerful cloud platforms such as Google Cloud to store company data – spreadsheets, documents, databases, images, applications, software and much more. But some businesses contemplating Google Cloud Platform wonder: Is Google Cloud safe? Is data stored in Google Cloud secure?
The answers to these questions appear to be “yes,” as long as companies take extra steps to make certain that data won’t be compromised. Below are some Google Cloud security best practices that business leaders should be aware of when working with their teams to ensure the security of company information.
Why Use Google Cloud?
As might be expected, Google has put a lot of resources into making Google Cloud a state-of-the-art storage platform. Unlike some upstart cloud providers, Google Cloud has evolved a reputation for quality data storage performance. Accessible anywhere in the world, Google Cloud claims to be “cost-effective and constantly improving.” It delivers all the high-performance infrastructure companies need for storage of their data.
Google Cloud also includes powerful tools for analyzing big data. Companies generate all kinds of data that can be useful in tracking business transactions, identifying customer or client trends, pinpointing inefficiencies in systems, and making informed decisions on the future of the business. Google Cloud’s customizable business intelligence (BI) analytics can propel businesses to greater success.
Keeping Google Cloud Secure
Along with Google Cloud’s respectable track record comes a commitment to security. Google works strenuously to ensure that data stored in Google Cloud is protected from intrusions. Although a public cloud platform has inherent security risks that a more expensive private cloud would not, Google nevertheless understands that the security of company data must be a major concern of any cloud platform.
While Google is doing its part in keeping data protected, security is a shared responsibility. Here are some Google Cloud security best practices companies should take into account:
Data Classification. Data has different degrees of sensitivity. Classifying data allows companies to categorize any data that should be restricted from wider distribution or otherwise confined to certain user groups. This is especially critical for data containing private information that could identify a specific individual, whether an employee or a customer.
Access Control. Companies are responsible for controlling access to data. It’s important to set user permissions at the project and application levels. This includes preventing end users from sharing critical information outside the corporate network or public cloud infrastructure.
Password Protection. Insisting that users have strong passwords is always a security best practice, especially when working in the cloud. Passwords should be as unpredictable and as random as possible. Two-factor authentication solutions (such as a password and token, password and emailed code, password and fingerprint) make it even harder for attackers to gain control of an account.
Data Encryption. Encrypting data is essential for creating a secure working environment. This is especially important when transferring data into or out of the cloud. Employing strong encryption, at all phases of data management, makes it more unlikely that data will be compromised.
Vulnerability Testing. It’s also important that data environments be routinely checked for vulnerability. Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VAPT) look for code flaws and application leaks that might make data insecure. If a vulnerability is found, it should be reported to Google via the Vulnerability Reward Program.
Security Sharing with Consultants. When hiring cloud platform consultants, companies should look for ones that takes security and privacy seriously. Any third-party vendor that handles business information should have the highest certification available when it comes to security processes.
At RDX, security is of paramount importance. Although we don’t store or process any data for our customers, we adhere to one of the most comprehensive security and privacy frameworks in the IT industry and have audited every security control possible within our organization. We reduce the risk of business disruption by leveraging RDX’s expertise and controls – which includes SSAE16, AICPA SOC 2 and PCI DSS compliance – ensuring the security, availability, integrity, confidentiality and privacy of data and transactions. You don’t become the #1 provider and pioneer of remote DBA services without paying close attention to data security.
This month, RDX’s VP of Delivery Strategies and Technologies, Chris Foot, and RDX Azure Expert, Jim Donahoe, teamed up to present Microsoft SQL Azure Overview and Demo.
During the webinar, Chris and Jim took a deeper look at some of Azure SQL DB’s most popular and interesting features in addition to how the product differs from its on-premises and IaaS counterparts. They also covered a wide range of topics from purchasing and provisioning to geo-replication, sharding and advanced automations.
The presentation concluded with a demo from Jim explaining how to:
If you missed yesterday’s webinar, you can view a copy of the slides on SlideShare.
You can also get access to the live recording of the presentation here.
Join our mailing list for updates about future RDX Insights Series presentations by emailing email@example.com.
It goes without saying that the security of any company’s business information is of primary importance. Whether or not sensitive customer information is actually stolen, any breach in company data makes security appear weak, can scare away customers and may eventually lead to a company’s demise.
Most systems and applications dictate what the minimum security standards are; one system might simply require 8 alphanumeric characters while others may require longer ones with additional parameters, such as the inclusion both upper and lower-case letters and the forced exclusion of publicly available personal data, such as a user’s name.
Oftentimes, a person’s password strength will conform to the minimum standards required.
There are many security measures a company can take to protect the business against information attacks. One such measure lies within control of every individual user: password security. Regardless of whatever the minimum standards of a system are, individuals should strive to create the most secure passwords they can. Here’s some password advice from experts in the field.
What Most People Think Is a Strong Password (Really Isn’t)
Password security has been a business priority for a long time. Users are instructed to generate passwords that would be difficult to hack. But just how strong are those passwords?
Some experts believe it hardly matters. They argue that hacking software has become so sophisticated that it can decode pretty much any password users create. There have been instances, too, where businesses have required users to maintain complex passwords only to have hackers break in and steal a list of the company’s passwords that was never encrypted on the server.
These skeptical experts advise businesses to instead put more of their energies into locking down systems, strengthening firewalls, encrypting data, employing two-factor authentication and putting clear procedures in place that prevent hackers from getting in and information from getting out. While these are all best practices businesses should definitely follow, other experts continue to believe in the importance of password protection as a central way to safeguard business information.
Why Passwords Fail
What makes a weak password? Passwords fail for any number of reasons, but the most common one is that they’re too predictable. Anytime users include familiar words or phrases or identifiable numbers, the password has a good chance of being hacked. Using a street name and house number, for example, would be like putting the welcome mat out for hackers. Same with using surnames, maiden names, parents’ names, kids’ names, pet names or any number of other recognizable monikers.
It’s not that hackers know who users are and where they live, but the algorithms they employ to break into systems are very good at guessing. Hackers can process password attempts automatically and at lightning speeds. Without strong passwords, companies might as well just give away their information.
What Is a Strong Password?
For better password security, users should take into account all of the following:
1. A strong password should be at least 12-16 characters in length – the longer the better.
2. It should be a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.
3. It should include unrecognizable strings of letters (i.e., words not found in the dictionary). Foreign or nonsense words can be useful. It’s not enough to simply replace letters in common words with special characters. “$pring&$ummer,” for example, wouldn’t be very strong.
4. Mix it up as much as possible. The more random the better. The problem with random passwords is that they’re hard for users to remember. One solution is for users to create unusual acronyms only they would know. For example, take the phrase “My parents live at 445 N. Locust Street in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.” The password version of this might be: “Mpl@445N.LSinE,PA” – a strong password.
5. Avoid using the same password in many different places. Again, users have trouble remembering lots of different passwords and tend to rely on a few choice ones. Hackers know this and will try to exploit it. One solution is to use a password manager service. A password manager will create a strong password for each application and then store it in encrypted language. The user needs to remember only one password (hopefully a strong one) that tells the password manager to unlock or log into any application.
Business leaders should ensure that their company employs best practices in preventing data breaches. That includes procedures for designating strong passwords that stymie hackers.
At RDX, security is of paramount importance. Although we don’t store or process any data for our customers, we adhere to one of the most comprehensive security and privacy frameworks in the IT industry and have audited every security control possible within our organization. You don’t become the #1 provider and pioneer of remote DBA services without paying close attention to security issues, especially as they evolve in the future.