BT broadband failure disturbs UK businesses

BT broadband users have now been hit by a second outage, following major problems with the service yesterday.

On Wednesday, hundreds of customers discovered that they were unable to visit selected websites and access some internet banking services. Unfortunately, both outages also affected data centres and businesses throughout the UK.

BT broadband outage

 

What caused these outages?

According to reports, Wednesday’s incident was due to a power failure at another ‘connection partner’ in London’s Docklands. With today’s incident being caused by a tripped circuit breaker in Telehouse North’s facility.

According to The Register, the following email was originally sent by BT Wholesale to alert customers to the issue:

Subject line: ‘Major Service Interruption’

“Due to a power incident at Telehouse North (London) IP Exchange Direct Access has been severely impacted since 07.45 this morning. Engineers are currently onsite attempting to resolve the issue.” 

The latest BT statement

BT has now commented on the power failure, stating that it was a substantial outage:

“We’re sorry that some BT and Plusnet customers are having problems connecting to some internet services this morning. One of our internet connection partners in the docklands has suffered a substantial power failure.

This is affecting BT and other providers. We are redirecting traffic to reduce the impact on customers. Engineers are on site and are fixing the problem.”

virtualDCS is currently working hand in hand with its customers to get their facilities back up and running as soon as possible. Please contact us for more information.

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Brexit and data sovereignty

The only certainty about the Brexit result, is that the UK’s exit from the European Union is going to create uncertainty, for data sovereignty.

The protection of data will be one of these ‘cloudy’ areas to watch.

What is data sovereignty?

data sovereigntyData sovereignty refers to data being held in a different country and how it complies with the laws of that location in which it is held. Data sovereignty can be quite simple to monitor when all your information is stored in one country, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage when it’s stored in multiple locations. For many businesses keeping all your business information in one location is impossible, especially with common issues such as cloud sprawl.

What is the impact of Brexit and the EU?

Collectively, all countries tied within the European Union have the same data sovereignty laws as each other. By voting to leave the European Union, the UK has divided itself, resulting in companies operating in Europe potentially having to manage one set of data laws for the UK and another for EU member countries. Unless the UK continues to follow the new EU regulations, relevant companies could lose the ability to process European data in the UK.

What is the impact on cloud computing?

64% of organisations cite the issue of compliance, auditing, and privacy as the biggest security challenge associated with cloud computing. Cloud computing revolves around accessing information from remote data centres, often in different countries, adhering to different data sovereignty laws.

Cloud providers may now have to offer additional options for customers, as it’s increasingly important for enterprise users to consider where their data is stored in order to protect it.

For example, if a business is working with a UK cloud provider, but the data is hosted by an American company, the data adheres to American data sovereignty laws. This means that all data stored is subject to the U.S. Patriot Act and can be accessed by the U.S. Government without the company’s permission or notification.

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virtualDCS named ‘Best International Cloud Computing Solutions Provider’

The team is thrilled to be awarded the title ‘Best International Cloud Computing Solutions Provider’, from the ‘2016 Technology Innovator Awards’, hosted by Corporate Vision.

It was a ruthless process, where subscribers and experts nominated industry leaders to be put forward for the award. Hundreds of nominated companies were then researched and assessed by the group, with virtualDCS beating the competition for the title – thanks to its innovative Software as a Service offering.

cloud computing solutions awardvirtualDCS is the only company in the world to offer this Software as a Service starter package and many customers have built their business around it. The team is so confident with their solution that they even offer a free trial consisting of business advice, evaluation servers and pay as you grow hosting packages.

Richard May, Managing Director at virtualDCS said “As with all of our offerings, we take a unique business first approach with our Software as a Service solution, taking the time to understand our customer’s business challenges and goals, combining the best technology to help them achieve their objectives.

We want to keep the industry moving forward and make the move into the world of virtualisation as smooth as possible, which is why we devised our one of a kind offering. We’re really proud that we’ve been awarded this accolade, as we aim to continue bringing innovative products and solutions to the industry.”

If you’d like more information on virtualDCS and its unique Software as a Service offering, visit www.SaaSexperts.co.uk or call the team on +44 (0) 3453 888 327.

About virtualDCS:

virtualDCS provides innovative, quality cloud computing solutions to businesses worldwide. Our team works in partnership with clients to provide a unique and professional experience; resulting in cloud solutions that exceed business expectations and reshape the way companies work for the better.

Unlike many other providers, virtualDCS work collaboratively with customers enabling them to take full advantage of the solutions – helping them to understand both the technology and how it can alleviate their existing business problems.

About corporate vision:

Created by a highly experienced and passionate team of business experts, advisors and insiders, Corporate Vision provides discerning readers worldwide with a wealth of news, features and comment on the corporate issues of the day.

Taking in everything from business strategy, expert opinion, analysis, corporate case studies, emerging trends, leadership, growth opportunities, and the challenges facing our country’s foremost business leaders, Corporate Vision is an invaluable resource for leaders and decision makers looking, not only to be informed, but to improve the way they manage their operations, staff, technology, business partnerships, and supply chains with a view to creating a more profitable and successful business.

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Green cloud computing and the environment

New reports back up claims that cloud computing helps data centres to reduce energy consumption.

Green cloud computingThe U.S. Data Centre Energy Usage Report states that power usage could remain constant through the 2020s, thanks to the influence of cloud technology. In the US, electricity usage previously increased by a minor 4% from 2010 to 2014; which is a substantial improvement over the 24% uptake between the periods 2005 and 2014.

In 2010, data centres accounted for between 1.1% and 1.5% of the world’s total energy consumption. US Data Centres accounted for a higher proportion of the country’s consumption, at between 1.7% and 2.2%.

This information comes in response to claims by Greenpeace, calling into question the efficiency of public cloud providers.

How is cloud computing green?

David Linthicum, a cloud expert at InfoWorld states:

“What makes the cloud green is if enterprises stop building new data centres every time they run out of capacity, and instead turn to cloud providers.

Enterprises spend millions of dollars each year adding data centre infrastructure in support of many servers running at about 3 to 5 percent capacity. That wastes not only energy in usage, but also in the server’s creation, plus a whole lot of raw materials, too.

Simply using public clouds is a huge step in the green direction. By sharing servers, we can do much more with much less — including power.”

If you’d like to learn more about green cloud computing and carbon conscious hosting, follow the link or contact a member of virtualDCS today.

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Customer service trends in cloud technology

According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 63% of people in the UK have stopped using a supplier due to bad customer service.

Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest challenges for customer service departments is retaining these clients and it’s clear that customer satisfaction is the key to loyalty, as globally this figure is a staggering 97%.  Businesses not only have to keep up with industry trends but also technology enhancements and client expectations.

Cloud technologyHere are a few examples of how customer service departments are using cloud technology to improve customer experiences.

Remote working

There has been a staggering increase in customer representatives working from home. Not only is this trend driving further migration to cloud computing, but it’s also enabling businesses to spend less money maintaining on-site facilities. Cloud technology is also providing the opportunity for businesses to hire more remote workers throughout the world, working in different time zones to provide a 24/7 service.

Live chat

Some customers prefer using email or a live chat facility as opposed to speaking to someone on the phone. According to Zendesk, customers who choose to use live chat facilities are more satisfied than those who use other methods. Satisfaction levels break down as the following: Live chat (92%), Voice chat (88%), Website forms (85%), Email (85%), Facebook (84%) and Twitter (77%).

Self-help

Recent trends suggest that the majority of customers want to be empowered to handle any issues themselves, without help. So much so that Gartner predicts by 2020, customers will manage 5% of their enterprise relationships without human interaction. Reports from Forrester research claim that 76% of customers use the frequently asked questions pages first, whilst 73% call customer service. Online knowledge bases are one way in which companies are choosing to provide a self-help service, voice activated speech recognition is also on the rise.

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UK Referendum result causes email spam increase

There has been a colossal increase in spam emails being sent to concerned citizens following the EU referendum.

The phishing attacks have been targeting users with subjects such as “Brexit causes historic market drop”. Users have been advised not to open, click or respond to these emails.

What is a Phishing attack?

phishing spamPhishing is an attempt to gather sensitive information, including usernames, credit card information and passwords. This information is often gathered for malicious purposes, with a spam email seemingly coming from a credible source.

Email increase

A Symantec spokeswoman told the BBC: “since the referendum results, Symantec’s threat intelligence researchers have identified a 392% increase in spam emails that use Brexit in the subject line to target people and organisations.”

The number of emails blocked by Symantec on behalf of their customers increased from 81,323 between 9 June and 23 June to 399,892 from the 24 June to 5 July.

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SMEs and Cloud Adoption

Recent survey results show that small businesses are happy with a hybrid ‘best of both worlds’ approach; embracing new cloud and Disaster Recovery technologies, whilst also relying on older tried and tested methods.

Interviewing 509 small business owners in the US, Brother and Wakefield Research SME cloud adoptionfound that although businesses were happy to utilise cloud and disaster recovery tools like Dropbox, 58% of employees still had to be in the office to complete their regular work tasks.

This hybrid approach enables small businesses to be productive, whilst also driving the business forward.  In the upcoming years, participants stated that their IT budgets would prioritise the following:

  • 21% of businesses plan to invest the biggest portion of their IT budget in cloud based file, sync and share solutions.
  • Security remains one of the highest priorities for business owners, with 30% of respondents stating that this would be dedicated the largest portion of their budget.
  • 28% of those surveyed are planning on investing the largest portion of their IT budget on remote solutions.

Easing the transition into the cloud

It’s clear that cloud computing is immerging into our daily lives at a rapid pace, but in order to ensure value, businesses need to identify which areas would benefit from cloud technology the most.

Industry professionals recommend seeking advice from a reliable and experienced cloud provider or introducing the cloud into the business on a small scale, in order to get used to the basic architecture before scaling up. There are also many Software as a Service solutions available on the market today that could fulfil business requirements, with minimum responsibility.

It’s also vital to keep the future needs of your business in mind. Obviously, you can’t mind read or predict the future but by making a few alterations you could avoid having to restructure your solutions further down the line.

If you’d like to speak to a cloud expert about migrating your business to the cloud or protecting your data with our disaster recovery solutions, give us a call on 03453 888 327

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EU referendum petition hijacked by bots

Security flaw: According to reports on the ‘4chan’ message board, some users have created scripted programs designed to automatically sign the petition.

security-eu-referendumSo far, the petition currently has over 3.6 million names, with thousands of signatures appearing on the petition from individuals in Vatican City and Antarctica. The House of Commons petition committee has since claimed it has removed 77,000 signatures.

“With any online property that is designed for interaction, you need a mechanism in place to defeat automated means of adding content,” Rik Ferguson of computer security firm Trend Micro told the BBC.

“4chan is famous for this sort of mischief – and if websites don’t have systems in place, they will get abused.”

Bot identification

According to the BBC, the government’s petitions website doesn’t have a security system in place to detect bots.

Some members of the 4chan message board have claimed responsibility for the hijack. “I voted 33,000 times. Left a script running while I was taking a shower,” wrote one member.

Prime Minister David Cameron has already said there will be no second vote, but the petitions committee has said it will continue to monitor the petition for any suspicious activity.

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Its time to check your DR strategy

Here are some scenarios that will make you want to run and check your Disaster Recovery strategy. 

Ignorance is bliss and at some point in life you’ll have said to yourself ‘that won’t happen to me’. Usually the consequences of these things actually happening are minimal, but for businesses, losing all your data can be catastrophic.

For those who do decide to leave it to chance, just remember that according to Axa, “80 of businesses affected by a major incident either never re-open or close within 18 months.”

If that hasn’t worried you enough, here are some every day Disaster Recovery scenarios and GIFs that will make you want to review your business continuity plans, right now.

1. The frozen laptop

 

We’ve all experienced this. Your final presentation is due in 10 minutes, you’re about to hit the save button when your laptop freezes and isn’t responding! You click on the screen, grumble and pray it starts working again.

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5 minutes later, IT support is just as confused as you are and you’re faced with taking the battery out. You do it while praying that it’s not a hardware issue, meaning you’ve lost everything… argh.

How could you avoid this? Well, you could continuously back up your data and store it on the cloud. You wouldn’t have to worry yourself over a frozen laptop when you can access the presentation on your phone, iPad or PC.

 

2. Human error

 

“OK Bob, we’re half way through the office move now. We’ll just leave this server here and go grab some lunch.”

“Are you sure that’s OK Barry? There’s all the business reports for the last financial year on there.”

“Of course, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

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Unfortunately you have to think about that one accident prone member of staff. Yes, you know the one that acts as an EMP, manages to trip over nothing and drop a hot cup of coffee all over a server.

mTA5qps

 

For a start, check there permissions. Can they delete ALL your shared company files and stop everyone working? (Yes, that’s a true story we’ve come across).

A strong Disaster Recovery plan would account for a range of incidents, so even if they do drop their laptop out of the window you can rest assured they can access their data anywhere.

3. Natural disasters

 

It’s not just IT glitches and failures that you have to worry about… it may seem a little far-fetched for Mother Nature to cause you to invoke a Disaster Recovery plan, but it happens more than you think.

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From fires, heavy snow and floods, for a DR plan to be effective you need to make sure your data is stored in more than one location. That way if a flood does destroy your main office location, you’ve still got all your information secured in a data centre 500 miles away and your employees can still be operational.

 

4. Dependency on one person

 

What happens when one of your staff members is unavailable? Sometimes Dave, your favourite IT guy can’t come to your rescue, no matter how hard he tries. You need to make sure your business always has a contingency plan in place, particularly if Dave goes on holiday.

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It’s vital that you have more than one person that understands how your IT systems are structured and how your disaster recovery plan works. It may seem like an obvious point, but especially for SME’s this is often overlooked.

 

Stressed or concerned?

 

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Don’t worry, you don’t have to be.

We can create a custom disaster recovery solution that fits around your business, just give us a call today or visit www.RaaSexperts.co.uk for more information.

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It’s time to review your Disaster Recovery communications plan

The most frequently overlooked part of any Disaster Recovery strategy is the management of public and employee communication.

If there’s no plan in place, not only could your business lose customers and tarnish its reputation, but it could also unknowingly cause widespread panic.

Tech Republic has recently published a fantastic example of this, where a local bank lost Disaster Recoverypower due to a storm that damaged internal computer systems. One bank teller managed to cause mass chaos for the bank after telling a customer that they didn’t know when the systems would be back up and running and that they seriously doubted that customers would be able to access their money any time soon.

Consequently, this information was published as a statement in the local newspaper the next day and caused hundreds of frantic customers to call the bank in a panic, tarnishing their solid reputation.

A DR plan is vital to any company, but as your IT department restores its systems and data back to full health, how can the business prevent any communication disasters?

Internal spokesperson

Needless to say, if your staff can’t access important information then they’re going to be concerned. It’s imperative that all staff members are kept in the loop with what’s happening, so they don’t start panicking or jumping to conclusions. Likewise, they should also be asked not to discuss the situation with anyone external to the company until it is over.

One of the best ways to achieve and manage this is through appointing an internal spokesperson, usually a manager, to act as a point of contact with the main team resolving the issue. Group emails or old fashioned call trees are great examples of how to keep everyone on the same page and prevent needless stress or concern.

Appoint an external communications team

One effective way to avoid Chinese whispers getting in the media and company shareholders is to appoint a dedicated external communications manager. Typically someone with experience in marketing or the Managing Director of the company. The business needs first to establish all the facts, enabling the communications team to work out the best approach to take to alleviate concerns. Often simply knowing that a DR effort is underway can help calm concerns. This could have certainly prevented hundreds of customers calling the bank.

Incorporate communications into your Disaster Recovery plan

This communications plan should be established throughout the business. Yes, it’s vital to restore data and the business back to normality as quickly as possible, but in order to protect its reputation, communications must also be managed.

If you’d like more information on how to create an effective Disaster Recovery plan contact a member of the team on 03453 888 327 or email enquiries@virtualdcs.co.uk

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