Concerto Cloud Services

Concerto is a managed cloud provider for mission-critical applications. Concerto makes IT easy by offering seamless integrations, infrastructure management and flexible deployments across virtual private, public and hybrid clouds.  Advanced compliance and regulatory certifications, rigorous security protocols and a 99.99% guaranteed uptime are part of Concerto’s “Premium Comes Standard” offering.

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Let’s face it: one of the reasons your organization chose a SaaS solution (whether Microsoft Dynamics 365, Netsuite or SAP) is that it is subscription-based. The upkeep is done. Or so you think.
What does it mean to be "Always On"?
What does it mean to be "Always On"?

Is your cloud always on? With an Always On cloud you won't have to worry about downtime for maintenance or software application code updates, ensuring that your bottom line isn't affected.

You deserve ‘straight talk’ from your cloud provider about your risk, your costs, security, uptime and the processes that are in place to protect your mission-critical applications.
Powerful tools can do wonders, but only in the right hands. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the cloud.
There’s a movement in Information Technology (IT), and while it’s hard to define, it is gaining momentum. Some call it “stream-lined IT;” others call it “thin-model IT.”
On Feb. 28, Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) went down after an employee issued the wrong command during a debugging exercise. Among those affected were big names like Netflix, Spotify and Expedia.
During and after that shift to cloud, one area that still poses a struggle for many organizations is what to do with their department file shares.

Many of the companies I’ve worked with have embraced cloud solutions due to their desire to “get out of the datacenter business.” The ability to achieve better security and availability, and the speed with which they are able to deploy, is far greater than traditional on-prem options.

During and after that shift to cloud, though, one area that still poses a struggle for many organizations is what to do with their department file shares.  I’m sure you’re thinking “there are all kinds of solutions,” and most of them are far better than a traditional network share.  I’d agree with you; however, many organizations have a workforce that is accustomed to this old process.  While solutions like SharePoint, One Drive for Business, and Dropbox are nice and have additional features, most organizations still prefer the Windows file share.  

One solution that holds promise is Microsoft’s Azure File Services.  The offering was originally intended to enable companies to move applications that interacted with file shares to Azure, and it was only accessible from Virtual Machines within the same Azure data center when it was first released.  But last year Microsoft released an update that leverages SMB 3.0 and enables users to securely connect to the shares from any location.

There are some limitations if you’re looking to deploy Azure File Services within your organization.  The biggest that I found was that not all internet service providers (ISPs), such as Comcast and Charter Spectrum, will allow port 45 access across their networks.  (Here is a list of known ISPs that do and don’t block this.)

The other major limitation at this time is while you can assign Azure AD permissions to the share, when a user connects, they have to authenticate with the Azure Storage Account and key. This requirement means that everyone is authenticating with the same account.  Microsoft is aware this is a short-coming and is supposed to be addressing it in the future with an update to the service.

These two limitations aside, I see the service being useful for organizations that need to archive data and only allow access from a limited number of individuals or systems.  As Azure storage is a low-cost retention solution, the data at rest can easily be encrypted with Azure encryption services.

If you’d like to try Azure File Services for yourself, follow these steps:

Go to the Azure management portal and log in with your account.

Make sure when naming the resource to use all lower case letters (this is a Microsoft Configuration requirement).  For Account Kind, make sure to select “General Purpose.” For our demo we’ll be using Standard performance disks and Geo-redundant Storage.  We’ve also enabled Encryption to show you how easy this function is.

Once the storage account has been created, browse to it and under File Service click Files. You see a sub screen and the Create File Share Button: click it, give your file share a name, specify how large you’d like it to be, and click Create.

Congratulations – you’ve just created your first Azure File Share.  But wait! You’re asking, “How do I connect to this file share?”

If you click on Connect it will give you the command syntax to connect from either a Windows or a Linux machine.  Remember, your ISP may be blocking port 445.  However once you do connect you can upload files and interact like a normal file share. 

Look for future updates from Microsoft on this feature to add additional security and the ability to assign individualized permissions based on Azure AD accounts.

Alternatively, if you are considering Azure for your organization but need additional expertise for deployment and management services, learn more about public cloud management services like those from Concerto Cloud. 

When speed and performance are vital to revenue, companies must have complete confidence in their cloud environment.

Expert Comment

by:Mihai Corbuleac
Comment Utility
People should trust cloud with their businesses especially because its seems that Cloud is here to stay. Recently I read some interesting facts & figures and this industry is growing faster than expected.
Concerto Cloud Services, a provider of fully managed private, public and hybrid cloud solutions, announced today it was named to the 20 Coolest Cloud Infrastructure Vendors Of The 2017 Cloud 100 by CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company. This annual lineup recognizes the most innovative cloud technology suppliers in each of the following five categories: infrastructure, platforms and development, security, storage and software.

To learn more, visit Concerto Cloud Services. You can also find additional resources on their dedicated Vendor Topic Page.
For cloud, the “train has left the station” and in the Microsoft ERP & CRM world, that means the next generation of enterprise software from Microsoft is here: Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s new integrated business solution that unifies CRM and ERP functionality into a common data platform.
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Steve Terp was featured in a video created by CRN about how "Channel Is Crucial To Market Disruption". Click on View source to see the video and article
Many companies are looking to get out of the datacenter business and to services like Microsoft Azure to provide Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions for legacy client server workloads, rather than continuing to make capital investments in hardware. And for organizations in the healthcare industry adhering to HIPAA and HITECH Standards, there are a few keys to safeguarding their sensitive data.

Microsoft supports running workloads with Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI) in Azure, but as discussed in an earlier article, it is important to understand their stance on Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) and the  shared risk model. In this model, the customer bears the burden of configuring the environment, or ensuring their service providers adhere to HIPAA and HITECH Standards.

Therefore, in this article, we discuss four key safeguards an organization can take when deploying workloads into Azure. To this end, the federal government doesn’t clearly outline in black and white what is required for HIPAA and HITECH, as much as require an organization to implement safeguards that are reasonable for their size.  The below keys are some of the safeguards a mid-market healthcare organization would be expected to implement to protect personal data.

Disable access from external networks or encrypt data in transit
Shadow IT is coming out of the shadows as more businesses are choosing cloud-based applications. It is now a multi-cloud world for most organizations. Simultaneously, most businesses have yet to consolidate with one cloud provider or define an official cloud strategy. According to RightScale, private cloud adoption has gone from 64% to 77% while hybrid adoption has gone from 58% to 71%.  Security is no longer a top challenge for the cloud – finding and building cloud expertise is. Without standardized certifications, choosing the right cloud provider can feel like a frustrating game of Russian roulette.
 With all this growth and shift, it's becoming increasingly important to read the fine print before selecting a cloud company as your trusted advisor.  (Additional details: [u][/u]) What happens if your cloud vendor doesn't deliver as expected? What if there is a security breach? Who owns the risk? Consider any solid service-level-agreement (SLA) as not only a warranty from the vendor, but also a pre-nuptial agreement that both parties agree too.
After migrating several hundred customers to a new cloud platform, my personal experience is that there are two reasons that organizations typically leave a cloud provider a) missed expectations or b) lack of follow-through. In other words, either two well-meaning parties didn't properly set expectations of …
The Delta outage: 650 cancelled flights, more than 1200 delayed flights, thousands of frustrated customers, tens of millions of dollars in damages – plus untold reputational damage to one of the world’s most trusted airlines. All due to a catastrophic, cascading technical failure that apparently started with a “small fire” in Delta’s datacenter.
Multiple news outlets have relayed this story about the fire, so I can’t speak to how Delta has its IT network designed and deployed. But I can say three things for sure.
First, our hearts go out to Delta for having to go through the mother of all business disruptions. It’s a tribute to the organization’s leadership, tenacity and resourcefulness that just a few days later, they were back online and operating normally again.
Second, if what I’m reading is true, this entire mess may have been avoidable — or at least, easier contained.
Third, I was one of the Delta travellers last week that was inconvenienced by the outage.  It wasn’t fun.
Since our inception in 2011, we’ve been promoting cloud services as a means to decrease an organization’s risk. Much of the current cloud conversation is around cybersecurity and how, in our datacenters, we deploy state-of-the-art security measures by employing world-class security experts who have a command of best practices, the digital threat landscape and compliance …
I recently attended Cisco Live! in Las Vegas, a conference that boasted over 28,000 techies in attendance, and a week of hands-on learning hosted by a solid partner with which Concerto goes to market.  Every year, Cisco displays cutting-edge technologies that partners, customers and life-long learners not only get to see, but kick the tires, interact with the technology in labs, and ask questions one-on-one with Cisco’s greatest experts in the field.  I was humbled by how much of Cisco’s latest technology we leverage in our Concerto data centers, that many attendees’ only opportunity to see and use is at Cisco Live.  But why is the type of technology used so important?  Doesn’t every cloud provider use the same equipment?
1) Technology is a major differentiator because it can make or break the experience and level of service you receive from your cloud provider.  If the provider’s cloud is sitting on top of white-labelled, low-budget, low-reliability equipment, without massive scale, you’re likely to feel the impact in performance and uptime.  Concerto is a “Powered by Cisco” partner who brings tried and true reference architectures to the cloud.  Using this reference architecture, it doesn’t matter where a problem is, Cisco and our other partners work together to provide us the latest recommendations on how to cloud-enable workloads to perform most optimally.  Technology is the foundation which enables Concerto to offer the amazing 99.99% level of service
Healthcare organizations in the United States must adhere to the guidance of both the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) for securing and protecting Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI).  Whether you view it as a positive or negative, the Federal Government has left the requirements of IT Security in HIPAA purposely vague.  The overarching guideline is to employ best practices based on the size of your organization.
For healthcare organizations looking to leverage Microsoft Azure for healthcare data in the cloud, Microsoft has published implementation guidance for adhering to HIPAA and HITECH on Azure (available here).  The guidance defines items in scope as: cloud services (both web and worker roll), Virtual Machines, Storage, Virtual Networks, Traffic Manager, Web Sites, BizTalk Services, Media Services, Mobile Services, Service Bus, Multi-Factor Authentication, Azure Active Directory, SQL Database and any other features identified on the Azure Trust Center.
However, there are some important things to know regarding Microsoft’s HIPAA guidelines for Azure:
The Business Associates Agreement: The guidelines include requirements for Microsoft to agree to sign a Business Associates Agreement …

Concerto Cloud Services

Concerto is a managed cloud provider for mission-critical applications. Concerto makes IT easy by offering seamless integrations, infrastructure management and flexible deployments across virtual private, public and hybrid clouds.  Advanced compliance and regulatory certifications, rigorous security protocols and a 99.99% guaranteed uptime are part of Concerto’s “Premium Comes Standard” offering.

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