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What Are My ERP Private Cloud Options

What Are My ERP Private Cloud Options

Not All Clouds are Created Equal: Reviewing Your ERP Private Cloud Options

 

It’s no secret that cloud computing has been increasingly finding its way into businesses by providing reliable solutions to increasingly challenging problems.  But for ERP customers with complex environment maps, an unmitigated move to the cloud might feel risky.  For this reason, some customers look for middle options between full cloud deployments and on-premise installations.  Private cloud hosting is one such midpoint, and it’s not uncommon for customers to approach the opportunities of cloud computing in search of a private solution.  But will this option leverage the obvious benefits of the cloud, while effectively providing the necessary support for your complex ERP ecosystem?

 

Your ERP installation is rarely an isolated entity—it is part of an integrated ecosystem of applications and processes, with various third parties, bolt-ons, and in-house applications interacting with the core ERP system.  As such, an ERP system is not always easily extracted from its ecosystem, as such an extraction is something akin to major surgery.  If you’re looking at handling this complexity with private cloud ERP deployment options, there are basically two management directions you can take.  You can build a private cloud using AWS, Azure, or Google, or you can work with an already established team of experts in private cloud hosting.  Let’s explore these options in greater detail.

 

Private Cloud in AWS/Azure/Google

 

The big players in cloud computing entered the application hosting game a while ago – Amazon, Azure, and now Google.  The option here would be to build out your virtual machine architecture within one of these clouds, and install your applications within this architecture, while working in turn to integrate your company-specific application ecosystem with the new ERP infrastructure.

 

While this eliminates the hardware investment of an on-premise install, you are still responsible for all the administration activities, at the server, application, and database levels.  And if your Epicor Admin should win the lottery, you are left scrambling for options.  If you lack the internal resources and need to bring in assistance in the administration of the application, you are now adding another party to work within this ecosystem.  Moreover, to your monolithic cloud provider, you are still just a number, and the service levels you can expect to receive will indicate as much.  Will the hosting company be responsive and listen to your apps and your business needs?  Is there a human voice to reach out to when issues occur?

 

Private Cloud Through the Estes Group’s ECHO Managed Hosting

 

EstesGroup’s EstesCloud Hosting, or ECHO for short, is our hosting platform. For one monthly price, we include all the functionality and support you need to keep your hosted applications running properly for your business.  While providing the access level that companies look for in private cloud solutions, we also provide the support and expertise that a big box store cloud partner can’t provide.  One phone call puts you in touch with our support team.  Well-versed in Microsoft’s full stack, we cover your servers with 24x7x365 EstesCloud Monitoring.  We cover the backups and disaster recovery, and we protect your users with EstesCloud identity management under the security of EstesCloud-managed Firewalls.

 

We have experience in moving many customers to a private cloud environment, while working with them to integrate their hosted ERP platform with their family of related applications.  With this experience comes the knowledge in working with protocols, networks, VPNs, and database connections, and we leverage this knowledge when engaging a customer.

 

In summary, some of the benefits of the EstesGroup’s ECHO Private Cloud Hosting solution include:

  • Known monthly expense, with no large capital expenses
  • Growth with your business supported by continual and customized service
  • Proven backup and disaster recovery playbooks
  • Easy, secure access from anywhere you wish
  • No Server Maintenance
  • No need to upgrade or repair hardware

 

When it comes to deploying your ERP architecture, there are clearly a number of different options, and the implications of the decisions made will have a lasting effect on your company’s future.  Are you considering spinning up your own private cloud to host your ERP application?  Drop us a line first, and let us help you explore your options.

Interested in learning more about Managed Hosting for Epicor ERP or Prophet 21 ERP?

 

Visit our Managed Epicor ERP Hosting page

Visit our Managed Prophet 21 ERP Hosting page

Epicor MRP Keeps You On-Time and Customers Happy

Epicor MRP Keeps You On-Time and Customers Happy

ERP!  ERP!  How do I love thee?  Let me Count the Ways: A Robust Materials Resource Planning ( MRP ) Engine

 

 

One of my favorite movies growing up was The Wizard of Oz.  One of my favorite scenes was when the “Wizard” was exposed as the “man behind the curtain,” pulling levers and revealing the secrets of the kingdom.  In the business world, this phrase has morphed into meaning a person who elusively controls the intricacies of a large enterprise—and no one really knows the who, what, when, or how of the magic behind the success.  MRP (Materials Resource Planning) is like this “man behind the curtain.”  Incredibly powerful, MRP manages the forces of supply and demand, keeping everything under control.

 

 

There are basically three questions that a manufacturer has, and MRP answers:

  • What does the customer want?
  • How many do they want?
  • When do they want it?

 

While those three questions seem relatively simple in nature, executing them in an efficient and profitable manner can become an extremely daunting, or even impossible task if you don’t have the correct tools.  Fortunately, the Epicor MRP Engine is a highly sophisticated but user-friendly process that can help companies increase on-time performance, lower inventory and improve efficiency.  MRP takes all three of these questions and looks at them holistically, to manage all variables that can occur on a shop floor.

 

What product does the customer want?

 

To answer this, MRP first looks to see if the part is purchased or manufactured.  At the core of the system is the type-attribute of the part.  Epicor defines a part in three ways: purchased, manufactured or sales kit.  Purchased Parts can have a defined lead-time and are used in determining when product can be available if stock is not available.  Manufactured Parts are built-up with routings and bills of materials.  MRP will take into account the time it takes for each operation, dependent on the quantity and material availability, to determine when the product will be available to ship, based on capacity on the shop floor.  Sales kits can be a combination of purchased and manufactured Parts and will use either or both types of logic to determine availability.

 

What quantity does the customer need?

 

Based on demand from forecasts or actual Sales Orders, the system looks at the current inventory level.  If there is insufficient inventory, it will suggest to the Purchasing Department to buy some if it’s purchased or will suggest to the Planning Department to create a job to make some, if it’s manufactured.

 

What is the customer’s timeline?

 

This is where the Epicor MRP logic will take the first two questions and analyze two things: If we don’t have it in stock, can we buy it in time to deliver it, or do we have enough material and resources available to build how many they want?  And it does this by taking into account not just one particular Sales Order, but all of the Sales Orders, and all of the inventory stocking levels and Job demands within a plant.  Obviously, this is a very tall order, and in a dynamic manufacturing environment, things are often changing on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  Because the MRP process can be such an intensive hardware resource demand, Epicor can be configured to run on a schedule (often times at night), either by looking at net change (to only work on those things that have changed since MRP was last run) or by being regenerative (to recalculate all demand).

 

Epicor also has the ability to run MRP for a specific part.  Have a customer that needs a part ASAP?  Now instead of having to wait for MRP to run, management has the ability to see the potential status of a job in a matter of minutes, and not hours, as MRP only has a single part to analyze.  The MRP process can also be limited to a plant, product family, or commodity class—reducing the time and resources required to generate the needed supply records.   Epicor MRP also supports multi-level pegging, which gives users the ability to trace the supply to each discrete source of demand.  This process also drives the projected Sales Order shortages and is an incredibly powerful tool to manage customer satisfaction.

The Epicor ERP system, in conjunction with its versatile and powerful MRP process, allows your organization to “see behind the curtain” at an organizational level, revealing what the current demands for your products are and if you have the necessary supply to meet demand in a timely and profitable fashion.

 

There are lots of things to love about Epicor’s E10 ERP application.

 

Want to know a few more?  Read our “ERP! How do I love thee?” series and give us a call with any questions you may have. 

Do you want to learn more about Epicor ERP and MRP? Download the Manufacturer’s information packet.

5 Ways EstesGroup Helps with Your CMMC Compliance

5 Ways EstesGroup Helps with Your CMMC Compliance

You might be reading this post if you are researching Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), your company needs to become compliant, or your company is already compliant with CMMC but you have need of more IT services. In 2019 the Department of Defense announced a new cybersecurity protocol named CMMC that all DoD contractors (and some of their supply chains) would need to adhere to starting in 2020. There are 5 Levels of CMMC Certification, and EstesGroup can be an asset to companies in any of the levels.

 

5 Ways EstesGroup Helps with Your CMMC Compliance

  1. EstesGroup helps you identify the technology and/or services you need to meet your CMMC Level Requirements.  
  2. EstesGroup can improve your Process Maturity by helping evaluate your Procedures, Policies, or Practices. Once we’ve reviewed those processes, we can help update them to ensure you meet your CMMC Level and other compliance requirements. 
  3. There are 17 Domains that CMMC is built on. EstesGroup has the experience, tools, and services to support your business across nearly all of these domains.  
    • EstesGroup routinely deploys tools and managed services that directly support these CMMC domains: 
      • Access Control, Asset Management, Audit and Accountability, Configuration Management, Identification and Authentication, Maintenance, Recovery, Risk Management, Security Assessment, Situational Awareness, Systems and Communications Protection, and System and Information Integrity. 
    • EstesGroup can consult on and support technology used in these domains as well, but these domains typically require internal personnel or a third party on-site.  
      • Awareness and Training, Incident Response, Media Protection, Personnel Security, Physical Protection, and Risk Management 
  4. EstesGroup Managed Services (ERP Hosting ECHO & Managed IT) employ many of the standard Cybersecurity measures required for CMMC. We regularly monitor our internal and client assets for threats, perform preventative maintenance, and update technology or processes to meet or exceed cybersecurity requirements.  
  5. EstesCloud Hosting (ECHO) services enable many CMMC requirements without significant impact to you, your users, or your bottom line. By hosting your servers or software solutions in a managed cloud environment, you can compartmentalize your compliant systems and protect them at the highest CMMC levels, without locking down your whole office. For more details, see our page on EstesCloud Hosting for Aerospace & Defense  

 

 

To Learn about CMMC, read our blog What is CMMC: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification?”

 

EstesGroup is a Managed Service Provider who works with Manufacturing and Distribution companies by providing: ERP Hosting (ECHO), Managed IT, Epicor ERP, and Prophet 21 ERP services.

 

Have questions about CMMC or do you want more information on how EstesGroup makes companies more secure? Contact Us or fill out the form below.

 

What is CMMC: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification?

What is CMMC: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification?

CMMC: The Looming Cyber-Security Certification that Affects 60,000+ Companies. 

 

In 2019, the U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced a new security protocol program for contractors, called Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). CMMC is a DoD Certification process that lays out a contractor’s security requirements and it is estimated that between 60,000-70,000 companies will need to become CMMC compliant in the next 1-3 years 

 

CMMC is basically a combination and addition to existing regulations in 48 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 52.204-21 and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.204-7012, and includes practices from National Institute and Technology (NIST) 800-171, the United Kingdoms’ Cyber Essentials, and Australia’s Essential Eight requirements. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) will remain a separate certification from CMMC; though companies that are ITAR Compliant will need to adhere to CMMC as well. 

 

CMMC Version 1.0 was released late January 2020. To view the latest CMMC document, visit the CMMC DoD site. 

 

CMMC Notables 

  • There are 5 Levels of security maturity process (basic is 1 and most stringent is 5) 
  • Any company who directly or even some who indirectly does business with DoD will adhere to CMMC – that means direct DoD contractors and high level CMMC companies’ supply chains must adhere to at minimum base level requirements 
  • No Self-Assessment (unlike NIST) Companies need to get certified through a qualified auditing firm 
  • DoD will publish all contractor’s certification levels requirements 

Is My Business Affected by CMMC? 

 

This is easily answered with a 2-part question: 1, is your business a direct contractor to the DOD, or 2, does your business do business with a company that is a contractor to the DoD*? If you answered “yes” to question 1, then your business will need to be CMMC compliant. If you answered “yes” to number two, then it is very probable that your company will need to be CMMC compliant. 

What are the CMMC Levels? 

  • Level 1 – “Basic Cyber Hygiene”  
    • Antivirus 
    • Meet safeguard requirements of 48 CFR 52.204-21 
    • Companies might be required to provide Federal Contract Information (FCI) 
  • Level 2 – “Intermediate Cyber Hygiene” 
    • Risk Management 
    • Cybersecurity Continuity plan 
    • User awareness and training 
    • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) documented 
    • Back-Up / Disaster Recovery (BDR) 
  • Level 3 – “Good Cyber Hygiene”
    • Systems Multi-factor Authentication 
    • Security Compliance with all NIST SP 800-171 Rev 1 Requirements 
    • Security to defend against Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) 
    • Share incident reports if company subject to DFARS 252.204-7012 
  • Level 4 – “Proactive” 
    • Network Segmentation 
    • Detonation Chambers 
    • Mobile device inclusion 
    • Use of DLP Technologies 
    • Adapt security as needed to address changing tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) in use by APTs 
    • Review & document effectiveness and report to high-level management 
    • Supply Chain Risk Consideration* 
  • Level 5 – “Advanced / Progressive” 
    • 24/7 Security Operations Center (SOC) Operation 
    • Device authentication 
    • Cyber maneuver operations 
    • Organization-wide standardized implementation of security protocols 
    • Real-time assets tracking 

One important thing to note about CMMC, is that unlike NIST and other current certifications, CMMC will require certification from an authorized 3rd Party CMMC authorized certification company. Currently, most companies can self-certify for DoD-related securities. EstesGroup is not a CMMC Certification Company, but we can help companies prepare and get their security up to requirements.

For more specifics on CMMC, access the latest DoD’s CMMC Revision.

 

Learn more about CMMC with 5 Ways EstesGroup Helps with Your CMMC Compliance

 

Do you have questions of CMMC or how EstesGroup can help your company with CMMC? You can Contact Us or make a comment in the form below.

 

How You Can Strengthen Your Network and Security with Passwords

How You Can Strengthen Your Network and Security with Passwords

We’ve all done it, at least once. Some of us maybe more than a couple of times, and I know there’s few that are repeat offenders. You know what I’m talking about – the bane of the security admin’s existence – default passwords.

Those are the usernames and passwords that come with every device. Even in this day and age, most systems don’t REQUIRE you to change the credentials that get you system admin rights. The bad guys know that and use it to their advantage.

When most of our business and personal systems are protected with just a name and a basic password (and maybe a trusted network range?), that’s pretty easy pickings for someone with a brute force tool or a sniffer to find out your secrets. And once the bad guys have your credentials, then what? Well after that is when the real dangers begin.

When’s the last time you changed your voicemail PIN from 0000? Perhaps your home router is still admin/password even though the FBI issued a warning for everyone to change it? And how many ERP users keep system admin “manager” around with the default password of… you guessed it. And those accounts open the door wide to anyone wanting to get in; good and bad.

If you have systems exposed to the bad guys (and we all do!) then this post is for you. STOP IT! Even if you told me “Well, none of those systems are internet exposed”, I’d ask “where are the bad actors in your network?”. If you said “outside the firewall”, I’d respond with something like “I dare you to create a share/folder called “payroll” and see how long some curious netizen (aka employee) fell into that folder looking for something juicy.

Imagine splaying your entire infrastructure wide open to someone who just happened to know that Netgear uses admin/password for all their routers? Or that your company name is NOT a good password?

So what’s a concerned system admin gonna do? It’s easy in theory and hard in practice. Here are some digital security tips that will create a stronger password security strategy:

1. Change the default username and change the default password.

2. Start using stronger passwords, not [email protected] We recommend pass phrases, or a sentence that you can remember but the bag guys will have a hard time guessing.

3. Enable account lockout so that if “x” bad passwords are guessed in a row, the account is locked FOREVER (not reset after 10 minutes, thank you Microsoft). Helpdesk notification of such a lockout will put you in the know.

4. Remove admin credentials from being used on untrusted networks. Yes, your users are untrusted! Create a management VLAN, or a specific set of IP’s that can RDP, or shutdown the access from outside devices altogether.

5. Enable multi-factor authentication. This can easily be enabled in Office 365 and Active Directory, and if your devices leverage that directory then they automatically get that 2FA protection as well.

6. Hack yourself! Run a network scanner, or hire an outsourced IT firm to investigate for you, find the unsecured devices and fix them before the bad guys do.

7. Let us help you! We can run an ethical scan IT Assessment Detective scan of your systems, attempt to break into your systems, and give you a full reporting of your IT weaknesses. As “they say” knowledge is power.

So, don’t let your next phone call to the EstesGroup be “help me, I got hacked!” And let our managed IT services company help you run your business better with a strong password security strategy – before the bad guys teach you a lesson.

Interested in Outsourcing your IT? Or have a question on data security? Ask us, we would love to chat.

Ransomware is getting mean!

Ransomware is getting mean!

As you might have heard, or possibly experienced, ransomware is a particularly nasty form of malware that holds your files hostage. In fact, DC webcams were hacked by ransomware before the inauguration! In the past, the ransom was usually just under $2,000 and, if you paid it, you probably got your files back. Those days are passing quickly.

Lately, one of the biggest dangers of ransomware is that they’ve figured if you’ve paid once, you’ll probably pay again, so paying actually sets you up to get hit again! “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…” In fact, we recommend against paying the ransom at all!. If infected, you can contact the FBI and while they won’t get your files back, they will open a case. I suggest you have a strategy for ransomware prevention implemented BEFORE you get hit.

To add injury to insult, when you do come up with the Bitcoin to pay (no, they don’t take American Express), there’s a possibility that you WON’T get your files back! The unlock key simply doesn’t work, and the bad guys no longer are interested in you at all. They got what they wanted,they might even ask for MORE money! Another danger of ransomware is that ewer variants will also start randomly deleting files until you pay up! Ouch!

Paying $600-$1,800 might not seem like a lot, but I am preparing for the day when the hackers don’t just demand money to return your files, they’ll start demanding MORE money to stop deleting your files, or worse yet, sell your files to your competitors! Can you afford a $20,000 ransom or risk your confidential data appearing in your competitors inbox?

Do you have a rock-solid backup policy? Have you been hit with ransomware and don’t want to fall prey again? Contact us today and let’s talk about ransomware prevention. EstesCloud has the vaccine for ransomware!

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