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How to Move Your Business to the Cloud

How to Move Your Business to the Cloud

How to Choose a Cloud for Your Business

Companies are moving to the cloud in droves, swift to flock to new IT solutions. Fortunately, there are a lot of birds wise to the server sky. When you’re choosing to put your data on a remote server (“the cloud”), you’ll need to know that your internet activity is secure and protected against disasters. Leveraging the power of off-site servers allows you to securely scale your system up, down or around. However, just how to move your business to the cloud can become a bit cloudy with so many hybrid, private, public and multi-cloud options available.

How to Choose a Cloud For Your Business Data Spiral

Two-Step to the Cloud

First of all, moving your business to the cloud allows you to effortlessly adapt your technology to your changing needs. When you host software on a physical server that’s right in your own building, you have to invest a lot of time and energy dancing around in-house technology management.

  • Is your server the right fit for your current state?
  • Can your server support your future goals?
  • Does your server justify its costs?
  • Is your server ready for a disaster? Where do your backups go?

Egress Expense and Other IT Considerations

If your software (whether a basic app or a complex ERP solution) is in the cloud, you pay for your specific usage, rather than a blanket allowance.  Remote work enablement becomes easy sailing. Moreover, it opens the way for new ways of distributing your workforce. Furthermore, greater efficiency is a given. In the end, your secure, virtual office is everywhere you go, and you can also monitor and manage it from any location of your choice.

 

Unfortunately, data loss happens for every company. Sometimes through a breach. Sometimes through a disaster. Let’s look at a little data delirium:

  • More than 50% of us house our data in the same room as our core technology.
  • We tend to count on the data backup, meaning we miss the business continuity step of creating a disaster recovery policy.
  • Double trouble is a common business mistake. When your backup is stored on-premise with the core IT infrastructure, you take risks.
  • Moving to the cloud is often delayed by indecisiveness.

In summary, many businesses stand unprepared to for a company crisis, like a malware attack. Fortunately, our managed IT specialists can show you how to move your business to the secure cloud.

 

 

 

Move to the Cloud for Business Success

Here’s a basic walkabout of how to choose business cloud solutions:

  • Understand your cloud computing options. First, do a little research on different types of IT infrastructure. Then, look into your data history. See how technology helped your business become what it is today. Next, jot down ways you’re already using the cloud both personally and professionally. Finally, analyze your data and your communication needs. (In the end, awareness is key. For example, do you know if you use public cloud software and trust IT security to default infrastructure?) Do you need an entirely virtualized office? Do you need a hybrid cloud environment to host your data with lightning-fast sync and share capabilities?
  • To begin the cloud transition, separate your necessary data from the rest. Furthermore, question all of your software. Would you benefit from a more simple or a more advanced ERP system? What applications are necessary?
  • Decide public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud or multi-cloud deployment. Likewise, decide on a solid data backup plan for the transition.
  • Predict your costs and your roles. Responsibilities will change when your technology changes. Will your employees clearly know their responsibilities once your cloud solution is deployed? What’s your new IT budget, and who will be responsible for managing expenses? When you work with a managed service provider (MSP), you form a trust bond that operates at the highest level of corporate ethics. Do you trust the IT experts who will build, access, manage and monitor your new cloud?
  • Choose security, including business firewalls and automatic encryption. Who will manage vulnerable data? Do you need additional encryption services from your managed IT provider? Do you need all of your data encrypted or protected by advanced cybersecurity services? These are necessities for organizations that deal with sensitive data, and our IT experts specialize to keep up with compliance requirements for highly regulated industries (for example, managed IT for law firms or managed IT for hospitals).

 

See Through the Cloud

One of the great benefits of cloud technology is that you get to choose a solution that is exactly what you’re looking for. How to move your business to the cloud is dependent on so many factors that we recommend you get a software demo of your options and then work with cloud specialists to take it from there.

 

EstesCloud supports manufacturers and distributors, healthcare clinics and medical facilities, accountancies, law firms, government organizations, nonprofits, and more. Please fill in your information below, and our IT experts will arrange a personalized demo on how to move your business to the cloud.

Cyber Verify “A” Risk Assurance Rating

Cyber Verify “A” Risk Assurance Rating

Cyber Verify A Risk Assurance Rating

The MSPAlliance Cyber Verify rating gives customers of cloud & managed services the assurance their provider is using the most current cyber security practices.

 

EstesGroup Receives Cyber Verify “A” Risk Assurance Rating

Loveland, Colorado – EstesGroup has received the MSPAlliance® Cyber Verify™ Risk Assurance Rating for Managed Services and Cloud Providers. Cyber Verify is designed to provide consumers greater transparency and assurance when it comes to the cyber security practices of those providers.

 

Cyber Verify is based on the Unified Certification StandardTM (UCS) for Cloud and Managed Service Providers and governed by the International Association of Cloud and Managed Service Providers.

 

“Today, more than ever, the consumer needs assurance when it comes to matters of cyber security and IT risk. We are honored to award EstesGroup with the “A” Cyber Verify seal and congratulate them on their exemplary display of dedication towards providing one of the highest levels of assurance possible to the consumer. Today, very few companies in the global MSP community have achieved an “A” Cyber Verify rating, placing EstesGroup in an elite group of managed service and cloud providers world-wide.” 

Celia Weaver

President, MSPAlliance

Cyber Verify Rating System

The Cyber Verify evaluates many different aspects of a company’s service delivery, paying particular attention to security. Cyber Verify evaluates internal service delivery security practices, business continuity of the provider, cyber insurance usage, and many other characteristics which are important in the evaluation process of customers seeking out professional and secure providers.

 

Cyber Verify applies the following rating system:
⭐︎ AAA – evaluates the provider’s cyber security practices on a 3-12 month period of review
⭐︎ AA – evaluates the provider’s cyber security practices on a particular day
⭐︎ A – evaluates the provider’s cyber security practices based on a thorough and in-depth self-attestation examination
 
 
 
Cyber Verify must be renewed annually. The Cyber Verify is a first in the industry and specifically designed for outsourced service providers and the customers they service.
 
 

“EstesGroup is proud of our EstesCloud division’s exciting new award – the Cyber Verify “A” Risk Assurance Rating – as part of our ongoing commitment to further strengthen our posture towards cyber criminal activity. Our clients can be assured that we employ the highest standards, and we are constantly seeking new ways to tighten our safeguards.”

Bruce Grant

President & CEO, EstesGroup

ABOUT MSPALLIANCE

MSPAlliance® is a global industry association and accrediting body for the Cyber Security, Cloud Computing and Managed Services Provider (MSP) industry. MSPAlliance was established in 2000 with the objective of helping MSPs become better MSPs. Today, MSPAlliance has a robust and global reach of cloud computing and managed service provider members across the globe and works in a collaborative effort to assist its members, along with foreign and domestic governments, on creating standards, setting policies and establishing best practices. For more information, visit http://www.mspalliance.com/

ABOUT ESTESGROUP

For 17 years, EstesGroup has served as a leading technology and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions provider. By integrating business application consulting with managed IT services, EstesGroup helps thousands of companies reduce both costs and risks. As a trusted managed service provider (MSP), EstesGroup employs technology experts to care for comprehensive IT responsibilities across industries. This means companies can focus on the work that only they can do, while EstesCloud technology specialists service the IT requirements of the business. With ERP experts in multiple disciplines, EstesGroup also employs certified, highly skilled ERP consultants to meet the needs of companies of all sizes with application management, managed hosting, professional services, and complete ERP support. EstesGroup is headquartered in Loveland, Colorado, and employs leading IT and ERP experts throughout the United States.

ABOUT ESTESCLOUD

EstesCloud provides managed technology services that meet the unique needs of each business served. Companies across the nation depend on EstesCloud for backup and disaster recovery, compliance, business continuity planning, cybersecurity, on-premise and remote technology infrastructure, managed application hosting, and complete IT department outsourcing. EstesCloud powers on-site work and remote technology enablement, including complete virtual office infrastructure. By offering secure and cutting-edge technology through public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud solutions, EstesGroup brings the newest technology to startups, small businesses, midsize companies, governmental and nonprofit organizations, and large manufacturing and distribution companies that depend on robust IT solutions.

 

To learn more about EstesGroup’s service as a leading technology firm, please fill out the form below to get a copy of our “Why Managed Services?” fact sheet.

To see EstesGroup’s deep ERP expertise in action, please fill out the form to get a copy of an Epicor consulting case study that analyzes engineer-to-order and make-to-order Epicor implementation challenges.

 

Malvertising Rising and Malware Mayhem

Malvertising Rising and Malware Mayhem

What is Malvertising?

Malvertising is a pet name for malware that’s delivered through online advertising techniques. The ads look authentic. Often, legitimate third-party marketing companies distribute them to reputable websites. Cybercriminals circulate this malware by posing as advertising careerists. The trick’s in the click. A banner ad tempts the viewer into clicking the offer. A successful malvertising campaign has an attractive (and secretly infected) ad laced to a convincing call to action. Malvertising malware attacks via reputable advertising networks, so it’s a more challenging threat than typical adware.

Malvertising Malware Alert

Red Teaming and the Big Bad Ad

Malvertising is only one of many types of malware, and understanding this cyberthreat’s origins can help you prevent a security breach. So, before you click on a cute kitten in a banner ad or click a link that claims you won a free skiing trip to Colorado, consider if the offer is legit. Moreover, is it even possible?

 

Unfortunately, the online ads of a hacker often appear to be from a reputable source. For full protection, ad blockers can prevent a malicious ad from ever appearing in your web browser. But if you do click on an ad and get suspicious results, you can take some steps to save your system:

  • Report the incident to an IT specialist for investigation.
  • Scan your operating system immediately, looking for malicious software and fileless malware.
  • After all vulnerabilities are addressed, use advanced cybersecurity testing methods to ensure advanced attacks can’t penetrate your system.

 

Types of Malware

To demonstrate the importance of cybersecurity, let’s look at some of the most common types of malware infecting businesses this year. At the same time, let’s consider managed IT services that can solve the problem of cyberthreats. First, let’s ask a few questions to see if your devices are prepared for the disaster of a cyberattack:

  • Do you have an incident response policy?
  • Do you have a business continuity plan?
  • When disaster strikes, will your team know how to respond?
  • Can your team recognize different types of malware and respond intelligently to threats?

 

Viruses

Once a virus gets into a computer, it propagates by copying itself. Hence, it infects another program and then another, and this continues through a viral spread similar to a cold or flu outbreak. If you’ve installed a free version of an antivirus software, consider upgrading to a more comprehensive cyber security solution. You can’t remove all malware with a simple click of a button, so if you think you’ve been hit with a computer virus, consult with an IT expert. Meanwhile, alert colleagues that a virus has entered the building.

 

There are many types of malware that fall into the realm of “virus” and are therefore covered by antivirus programs. For example, you can pick up worms and trojans while browsing online or while opening emails. Fortunately, a click, a download or a similar user behavior is required to activate this type of malware. This means that we can proactively stop viruses by training users while protecting them with antivirus software. Cybersecurity awareness and training can help users interact with devices in ways that prevent the spread of computer viruses. Most importantly, you can keep your software, including anti-malware software, up to date and patched.

 

Spyware

If you imagine malware is a person, then spyware is the undercover intelligence of the hacking world. Primarily, it enters personal and business networks through legitimate downloads. It slips into the system undetected and then spies on your personal information, sharing your sensitive data with the people behind the cyberattack. Hackers frequently access accounts simply by guessing the username and password. Multi-factor authentication or an installation of a password manager can help prevent a spyware attack.

 

Similar to malvertising, spyware poses an internet security risk that is difficult for users to detect. Cybersecurity security specialists can help because they’re trained IT professionals who can see the trickery that is often invisible to you and other users. Once spyware is in your computer, it collects your information through a keystroke logger or a screen capture software. At the same time as it’s capturing your data, it can send it to a hacker via a portal like a malicious website. This data can then be used to launch a more advanced attack like ransomware.

 

Do you have spyware on any of your devices? A security audit and a workstation assessment can detect network threats and vulnerabilities. A dark web scan can determine if you’re at increased risk due to past data breaches.

 

Ransomware

The popularity of cryptocurrency encouraged the propagation of ransomware. In fact, ransomware now stands as the biggest cyberthreat for small businesses. Rather than destroying data, ransomware usually holds it hostage until the ransomed business owner pays a fee to free the system from the attacker. If the ransom isn’t paid, then the hacker will destroy or keep the data. This private information can end up on the dark web market, resulting in unknown and untraceable crimes. How does ransomware gain access to your network? This type of malware often begins with a malvertising click.

 

If attacked, should you pay the ransom? One of the great benefits of partnering with a managed IT services firm like EstesGroup is that you will have IT specialists helping you when and if you’re ever the target of a ransomware attack. Proactive IT strategy can prevent revenue lost to ransomware fees. When you deploy backup and disaster recovery solutions, you don’t have to budget to pay off the cybercriminal behind your ransomware. You can ignore the attack completely if your data is replicated through a cloud-based DRaaS solution. Rather that pay the hacker, you can contact your IT specialist to handle the problem for you. Additionally, you can prevent the problem with cybersecurity solutions. For example, we can completely block risky internet traffic that harbors ransomware.

 

Botware

Fear not the bots? Botware floods your devices with denial-of-service attacks. It buries its own method in mystery. If your computer’s CPU is in overdrive because of a botware installation running in the shadows, then you’ll notice an overactive fan and a higher electric bill. Botware can be difficult to detect but can create havoc by replicating itself into seemingly legitimate applications. Clear botware from your system with anti-malware services.

 

Malvertising & Malicious Adware

Malvertising attacks are on the rise. Pop-ups, widgets, apps, and toolbars all can infect computers. Clicks and other user interactions trigger malware infections. Fortunately, Google created tools and educational resources for users to easily understand and report a malvertising campaign.

 

Cybercriminals often use display advertisements to deceive users. Auto-redirecting ads work by tempting the viewer into a click that takes the victim to a phishing site. Advanced cybersecurity solutions can detect malicious code in these ads. However, corporate data is safest if ad blockers are installed.

 

A common malvertising trick tempts the viewer into a free security scan. During the scan, the cybercriminal gains access to the computer. Then, the hacker can install any type of malware. If you use a third-party marketing firm for your business, you might host malware through ads that appear legitimate. If this happens, Google will penalize your site. Therefore, take caution when using third-party marketing tools.

 

Marketing Mimicry: How You Become the Malware

Malicious advertising easily tricks you into a click, so keep vigilant, especially when interacting with display ads. Be sure to report any suspicious ads to Google. If the ad’s script contains suspicious code, including encrypted code, then remove the ad immediately and file a report. Display advertisements often distribute malware to businesses through auto-redirecting ads that lead to a phishing page. If you avoid the click bait, then you prevent malicious code from attacking your computer system. Here’s a malvertising play-by-play that gives you an example of how this type of malware attack might unfold:

  • You sign up for a third-party marketing service, and the company distributes banner ads to help you grow your business.
  • A cybercriminal creates an ad that’s infected with malicious code.
  • Someone sees your ad and clicks, and the malvertising ad redirects the victim to a phishing site.
  • The cybercrime victim spots the threat and reports your malicious advertising campaign to Google. As a result, you’re flagged by Google for hosting malware. In turn, this penalty hurts your online presence.

Magnificent Malware: And Then What Happens?

Malicious advertising harms businesses. It hits everything from law firms to real estate agencies. What will you do if you’re a victim of malicious click bait? First, you should report the attack. Then, you should create new cybersecurity policies that include ad verification steps. Be careful of all ads that you see online, especially if they appear in the form of pop-ups. For the safety of your business, consider blocking all ads and deploying robust malware protection across networks and devices.

 

If you see something that you think shouldn’t be in your software, give us a call, and we’ll help you analyze suspicious code. If your business depends on sensitive data, consider managed security solutions, including managed application hosting. Enterprise resource planning systems are complex and frequently targeted by cybercrime. EstesGroup combines IT with business application expertise to keep Epicor, Syspro, QuickBooks, Sage, and other ERP systems working optimally. We host large organizations on our secure server through virtual office technology.

 

Cloud Technology and Managed Application Hosting Protection

EstesCloud protects businesses from all types of malware. Our SECaaS (Security as a Service) solution lets you do the work only you can do, while our IT consultants protect your hard work. Our IT services cover every stage of business development, growth and change. In fact, our IT consultants work closely with our ERP specialists to build custom solutions for your technology infrastructure. For example, our Epicor consulting services complement our managed application hosting and managed security solutions for Department of Defense manufacturers.

 

 

Ransomware will cost businesses more than $20 billion in 2021. Please fill out the form below to get our guide on ransomware prevention.

 

Epicor ERP Database Upgrade Considerations

Epicor ERP Database Upgrade Considerations

Technical Considerations for an Epicor Upgrade

As more and more Epicor users moved from Epicor 905 to E10, the new world of upgrade challenges leveled off into old world reflection. As a customer, I once watched my company implement Epicor’s Vantage 803 platform and flirt heavily with a disastrous 904 release before upgrading to 905.600B. They finally settled on 905.702A. Since then, they’ve been in a holding pattern, and their jump to E10 is now, essentially, a ground-up ERP reimplementation.

 

If you’ve made the decision to upgrade, you need to consider everything from old data to new cloud-based servers. Because I’ve seen Epicor consulting on both sides of the give-and-get (as a customer and as a consultant), I’ve collected quite a few answers to questions surrounding your Epicor ERP database and your decision to upgrade.

Epicor ERP Database Technical Conceptualization

The Epicor ERP Lifecycle

For customers already on E10, the burdens of keeping your system up to date are much less worrisome. Epicor’s release cadence is now a metronome of consistency. New versions address the bugs and bothers seen in earlier iterations. Epicor consistently provides new functionality to the software and enhances existing capabilities. To this end, it is important to understand Epicor’s support cycle, and the difference between active support and sustaining support. To begin with, active support relates to the full breath of assistance provided by Epicor, and is reserved for versions that have been released roughly within the last two years. Epicor produces a new release (for example, from 10.2.600 to 10.2.700) every six months. That means if you are four releases behind the current release, you’ve moved into sustaining support.

 

Epicor System Support: Version Control

For an example, let’s say you implemented Epicor on version 10.2.300, and Epicor’s most recent release is 10.2.700. This means active support for your old version expired, just as the new version became generally available. As of release .700, Epicor would now only provide active support to versions 400-700. As such, release 10.2.300 would now be on what Epicor refers to as “sustaining support.” Sustaining support significantly limits the level of assistance Epicor will give you, whether it be support through their help line, bug fixes, the ability to purchase new ERP modules, and even the ability to obtain ERP consulting support. To make the most of your support fees, it is normally a good idea to keep your application’s version current.

 

Epicor ERP Upgrade Q&A

For companies falling behind on release upgrades, we can (with minimal angst) get the systems updated. First, we can ask a number of questions regarding the mechanics of the upgrade itself. Then, we can work from the solid foundation of a successful upgrade plan. With this all in mind, I collected some of the questions we normally ask a customer during the consulting process when helping form an Epicor ERP database upgrade plan.

Detail Your Current ERP Environment

  • App Server(s): How did you deploy your production application? Is it deployed on a single server or on multiple servers? Are your test environments deployed on the same server as the production environment, or are they deployed on separate servers? Is your environment deployed onto a physical server, a virtual server on physical hardware, or to a cloud-based VM? What is the version of your operating system? Is it up to date? What are the physical properties of your application server environment(s)—RAM, CPU, hard drive?
  • SQL Server: Is the SQL Server installed on the same server as the application or to its own server? What version of SQL Server Management Studio are you using? Is it up to date? What are the physical properties of your database server—RAM, CPU, hard drive?
  • Epicor Applications: What version of Epicor are you on? To which version of Epicor do you intend to move? Is it supported by your OS and SQL Server versions?
  • Epicor Extensions: Which Epicor extensions are currently in use (Web Access, Mobile Access, Enterprise Search, Social Enterprise, Education, Information Worker, Data Discovery)? Do you intend to utilize the same extensions when you upgrade?
  • Third-Party Tools: Do you have any third-party tools or integrations that will need to be in use when you upgrade (CRM integration, External Configurator, Ecommerce, etc)?
  • Client Installation: How is your user community connecting to the application? (Client install? Terminal Server? Web access, etc.)? Do you intend to utilize the same installation methodology when you complete your Epicor ERP database upgrade?
  • Backup Policy: What is the current backup solution and disaster recovery policy? Do we need to carry this forward, or will we make changes to this as part of the upgrade?

Clarify the Future-State Server Map

Live Server: Do you ultimately intend to deploy the upgraded Live environment onto a new application server or utilize the existing server?

Test Server: Will you be using a new Test server or utilize the existing server, with the intent of running two versions concurrently during the upgrade phase?

Database Server: Will you be deploying to a new database server or using the existing server?

  • If a new server, have you procured your additional SQL Server licenses?
  • If a new server, who will we be installing the SQL Server application?

Roles and Responsibilities: For all new servers, what tasks will be the clients responsibility?

  • Provisioning new servers
  • Providing new OS licenses, installing operating systems and enabling RDP
  • Providing the agent-based backup solution
  • Supplying any anti-virus exclusions

Server Access: What is the preferred method of attaining server access?

  • Remote connectivity agent
  • VPN/RDP
  • Virtual Desktop
  • RMM

Order of Operations: What does the upgrade and verification process look like? Are we upgrading test application first?

Verification Plan: Is there a testing qualifications checklist? Have you identified the scenarios, products, and business processes that you wish to use for testing? Finally, have you identified all the customizations, dashboard, and reports that you will want to verify as part of testing?

A New View From an E10 Upgrade

So far, we’ve looked at questions surrounding primarily technical considerations. However, with all the discussions of feeds and speeds, it’s not uncommon to have a customer come to us asking, “What does an Epicor E10 upgrade actually look like?” To begin with, answering the above questions will go far to understanding the shape of the upgrade. Next, moving beyond the technical considerations, we can identify a basic flow of activities. Moreover, this flow can help customers understand just what needs to be accomplished and in what order.

 

While each upgrade looks a little different, based on the specifics of the organization, most upgrades follow a sequence similar to the following:

  • First, spin up any new servers and install operating systems and SQL Server as required.
  • Then, install a new version of the Epicor application to a designated application server and/or upgrade the existing Epicor application on an existing Test server.
  • Meanwhile, take a copy of the production environment database to create a Test environment database on the SQL Server.
  • Next, upgrade the Test environment database from the Admin Console on the application server.
  • Perform testing activities to determine whether the new version works as anticipated. Perform remediation where gaps or issues are found and retest.
  • Once approved, schedule live upgrade, client deployment plan and communication plan.
  • Then, focus on upgrade production application and upgrade client deployments.
  • Support end users during post-upgrade period.
  • Finally, decommission any old application install and/or servers that are no longer required.

An Epicor Database Ace

Beyond version support, you can find many good reasons to keep an up-to-date Epicor ERP system on your side. Primarily, updating to the current version of the application allows you to leverage the cutting-edge features of the system for your users. So give some thought to sprucing up your data with an Epicor ERP upgrade. 

Do you have a question for an Epicor consultant? If you need an answer to an ERP question, please fill out the form below, and we’ll talk to you soon. Likewise, you can use the chat to ask your questions, and we’ll talk to you within seconds or minutes. For more Epicor consulting advice, read one of our ERP white papers. If you’d like to know more about hybrid and private cloud ERP, watch a webinar on virtual office cybersecurity. Then read about our managed IT solutions that are perfect for any ERP system.