Why the Desktop-as-a-Service Market Is Growing

VDI concept: various devices linked to cloud
XaaS cloud solutions are infiltrating the tech world: infrastructure-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) and so on. Of these, DaaS probably spends less time in the spotlight than its counterparts, but it's nevertheless gaining in popularity. 

Last year, according to 451 Research, the market for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which is the foundation for DaaS, grew 30 percent in the span of a year. It's expected to repeat that growth pattern through 2017.

So what is it about DaaS that adopters find appealing? Let's look at a few key benefits.

Ability to Manage More Users and Devices

Computerworld cited DaaS as a "BYOD assist." With employees using multiple devices — some personal and some company owned — it can be challenging to restrict access to corporate data and make sure devices are running up-to-date operating systems and software patches. Because DaaS consists of virtual desktops, users are able to access their same desktop configuration from any device, giving them the flexibility and mobility they're accustomed to. At the same time, IT gets to maintain control over data and applications.

Flexible Backup Options

In addition to better user management capabilities, DaaS provides enhanced backup capabilities. IT personnel can administer the desktop remotely, backing up data and critical applications as needed. Plus, as TechTarget points out, they have the option of recovering a whole image or just a file. (For more on why this ability is a huge plus for a backup solution, read this post on backing up your files versus backing up your environment.)

Greater Disaster Recovery Capabilities for SMBs

Enterprise backup and recovery solutions can be expensive, making it difficult for SMBs to implement adequate disaster recovery (DR) measures. DaaS puts greater DR capabilities within their reach. DaaS providers will typically host the solution and utilize a pay-as-you-go fee structure, allowing users to scale utilization during peak periods (e.g., a DR test or event) and avoid paying for services they don't use. Even enterprise organizations can benefit from DaaS by using it to extend their available workforce during a business interruption without in turn overextending their DR budgets.

With greater, more affordable control over devices and data, it's not hard to see why the DaaS market is growing. To learn more about data management in the cloud era, check out this infographic.

Three Noteworthy Regulatory Run-ins During 2014

Rules and regulations stamps next to stack of papers
Companies in regulated industries like healthcare or financial services are facing increased pressure to remain compliant — a challenge when organizations face volatile factors such as new security vulnerabilities, staff’s failure to follow company policy or a third party’s negligence. The result is an increasing number of regulatory run-ins. Here are a few noteworthy incidents that made headlines in 2014.

Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act

During the Heartbleed epidemic, Franklin, TN-based Community Health Systems had 4.5 million of its patients’ personal information stolen. Not only was this the largest Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) breach of 2014 but also the second largest HIPAA breach ever.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act

The CEO and former CFO of a computer equipment company, which went bankrupt in 2009, were charged with violating the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act. The CFO hid the fact that the company didn’t have adequate inventory controls and manipulated accounting records in order to increase the amount of money the company could borrow.

National Credit Union Administration

During a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) examination of Palm Springs Federal Credit Union, an unencrypted flash drive containing credit union members’ personal data went missing. The NCUA later announced that the drive was lost due to the investigator himself failing to follow NCUA’s policies for protecting sensitive data.

To read more about how to cope with regulatory pressures, read our post “Compliance Concerns Are Rising — Here's What You Can Do About It.”

Wall of Shame: The Top Cause of Breaches Since Omnibus

Stethoscope on laptop keyboard
The year 2013 was a pivotal time for the healthcare industry. Bioengineering developments reached new heights with emerging technologies such as electronic aspirin and a transcatheter aortic heart valve that provides an alternative to open-heart surgery.

And then there was HIPAA's omnibus rule. The rule extended HIPAA requirements to healthcare organizations' service providers, strengthened requirements for data protection and privacy practices, gave individuals more rights for obtaining access to healthcare records and increased maximum penalties for noncompliance.

Data Breaches Since Omnibus

Since omnibus went into effect, the number of organizations that have made the Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS’s) "wall of shame" — the moniker given to the public, legally required listing of breaches affecting 500 or more individuals — has skyrocketed.

According to data we exported from HHS, 1,186 organizations have found themselves in HIPAA's bad graces during the time span of January 2013 to December 2014. Of the top 10 largest breaches, 70 percent were due to the loss or theft of information stored on backup tapes, servers, drives, desktop computers, laptops and other media.

Staying Compliant

Omnibus doesn't always offer prescriptive recommendations for avoiding breaches. However, healthcare providers can learn from the mistakes of others and take precautions to remain compliant, avoid fines, and most importantly, protect their patients' information.

Below are a few examples of solutions we recommend for healthcare providers looking to combat common breach causes:

We also encourage healthcare organizations to make sure any business continuity and disaster recovery vendors they consider working with have completed a third-party audit that meets regulatory standards, such as the
Service Organization Controls 2 audit.

Ultimately, by taking proactive measures against security breaches, you can lessen your odds of landing a spot on the wall of shame.

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Value of Clean

This time of year usually brings to mind visions of colder temperatures and snow. It's also the peak of flu season. Each year 5-20 percent of Americans contract the flu virus. Check out this infographic by ISSA to find out how keeping the workplace clean can keep your employees healthy and save you money.

value of clean infographic

Backing up Your Files for Disaster Recovery Isn’t Enough

If you’re not an IT person but are involved in business continuity and need to be familiar with your business’s disaster recovery (DR) plan, how do you know if your organization is using the right data backup and recovery solution? The specific answer will vary based on your organization’s size and industry, but one thing holds true for all organizations: You need a solution that can back up your environment, not just your files. We’ll explain why.

File-Sharing Services

Files open on laptop
End users love online file-sharing solutions such as Dropbox and Google Drive. It’s not hard to see why: The interfaces are user friendly, files can be automatically synced across devices, and data is easily accessible.

When it comes to recovery, however, file-sharing services are a mixed bag. On the one hand, being able to recover a single file or subset of files at the click of a button is great.

Recovering a large amount of data, as in the case of a total system failure, is another story. Sorting through duplicate backups and then recovering all your files can be a time-consuming process (not to mention the fact that you’ll have to rebuild your system environment from scratch). Even worse, people using file-sharing services have recounted horror stories of permanently losing chunks of data due to system bugs and syncing issues.

If your organization is subject to regulatory requirements such as HIPAA or FFIEC, file-sharing services present yet another set of challenges, because they don’t have adequate built-in measures for protecting sensitive information. For instance, even though data might be encrypted while it’s stored within the service’s interface, it’s not protected if the files are shared. One company even discovered that links to people’s personal tax returns and mortgage applications were showing up in pay-per-click ads.

While file-sharing services do have benefits, it’s important to remember that even though some vendors offer solutions that are marketed for enterprise use, they were originally designed for the individual consumer and don’t readily translate to a business-wide backup solution.

System-Based Backup Solutions

Hands typing on keyboard
Earlier we mentioned that in the event of a total system failure, a file-sharing service is only helpful for recovering files. This is one of the areas where system-based backup and recovery solutions offer a clear advantage: They create copies of your operating systems, configurations and data and then back them up to a storage appliance or cloud service.

When a total system recovery is necessary, you can recover the image to the destination hardware without having to manually reconfigure the system. To shorten recovery times, save on storage space and reduce bandwidth, you can use deduplication to back up only the unique versions of a file, as opposed to keeping copies of each file every time it’s saved.

System-based solutions can also be ideal for maintaining compliance — especially because, as FFIEC guidelines state, “The primary risk associated with data and program back-up is the inability to recover systems, applications, and data in case of a disaster or other disruptive event.” To find out if a specific solution meets compliance requirements, verify that the vendor has undergone an audit such as Service Organization Controls 2.

Best of Both Worlds

Regardless of your organization’s size or industry, relying on a file-sharing service as your DR solution won’t cut it. Fortunately there are system-based DR solutions on the market that offer the benefits of file-sharing services — portability, cross-device compatibility and ease of use — without sacrificing security. BlackCloud vaulting and recovery, for example, allows you to back up and restore individual files as well as full systems through a single portal interface.

Have you encountered challenges from file-sharing services that we didn’t cover in our post? Share them with us in the comments!

What to Put in Your Winter Preparedness Kit

Snowy roadThe first day of winter is almost here, and that means we all have to gear up for the colder weather and icy roads. Make sure you’re equipped by keeping a winter preparedness kit in your car. Here are some critical items to remember:
  • Ice pick
  • Snow shovel and brush
  • Basic tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers and a wrench
  • Bag of traction material like kitty litter or sand
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Items to keep you warm, such as extra clothes, gloves, hats and blankets
  • Booster cables
  • First aid kit 
  • Nonperishable food items (such as granola bars) 
  • Water
  • Warning flares
  • Reflective triangles

With these items, you'll be prepared to handle the wintry roads. For more winter tips, check out our post “What to do When... There Is Too Much Snow.”

Research Shows That the Demand for Healthcare Cloud Services Is Growing

Doctor standing in front of cloud conceptIn recent years, regulatory mandates such as HIPAA have forced healthcare organizations to approach business continuity differently, particularly when it comes to big data management.

With electronic data volumes growing by about 40 percent annually, healthcare practices are having to innovate in the way they manage data, while keeping in mind objectives such as recovering data and reducing the likelihood of security breaches.

Efficient management of high-value data is also becoming important to improving quality of care. In a recent survey by the American Health Information Management Association, nearly all healthcare professionals (more than 90 percent) said that valuable information “helps improve care quality, contain costs and analyze clinical, business and financial performance.” 

Cloud solutions are making it possible for a more streamlined data management process. But are healthcare organizations taking advantage of these solutions? Do they have the resources available to do so? Recent research says yes.

A report by Frost & Sullivan indicates that by 2020 the total value of the healthcare cloud market will be in the neighborhood of $3.5 billion. In a separate survey by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Equinix, 74 percent of North American survey respondents said they expected a larger budget in 2015.

With their increased budgets, providers will look for the following features in a cloud services solution (criteria are gathered from both surveys):
  • Security
  • Operational efficiency
  • Lower up-front costs
  • Access to on-demand capacity
  • Quick deployment
  • Easier management of IT staff
  • Direct connections to cloud providers
In response, disaster recovery and business continuity vendors are launching cloud solutions that meet healthcare providers’ specific needs. Check out how one healthcare organization is using the cloud to manage their data.