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The Connection, Inc has been serving the New Jersey area since 1992, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

A Few Ways Small Businesses Can Use the Cloud

A Few Ways Small Businesses Can Use the Cloud

A lot is made about cloud computing and its cost and time saving benefits, but when your business is small, a lot of times, it could just be looked at as an unnecessary addition to your computing infrastructure. Today, we thought we would go through a few ways that even the smallest of businesses can utilize cloud computing. 

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Cloud Costs Could Undermine Your Efforts

Cloud Costs Could Undermine Your Efforts

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues around us, many businesses have found themselves seriously reconsidering their business’ infrastructure, pondering the switch from onsite hardware to cloud-based options. While these hosted options can offer businesses relief from a costly hardware refresh, it is important to acknowledge that cloud computing may not be a one-size-fits-all panacea. Let’s take a closer look.

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Are You Wasting Money in the Cloud?

Are You Wasting Money in the Cloud?

The cloud has proven to be an extremely useful tool for modern businesses. Not only does it provide anywhere-anytime access to applications, processing, storage, and more, it also delivers those products as a service, allowing an organization--or an individual--to budget for recurring costs rather than major upfront ones. This provides your organization with functional, supported, and secure computing environments that eliminate a lot of the support costs that traditional computing environments require. It sounds like a perfect scenario for small and large businesses alike, but things aren’t always what they seem, as a lot of cloud users have found that they have incurred several hidden costs by using cloud platforms. Today, we take a look at these hidden costs. 

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4 Tools that Every Small Business Should Use

4 Tools that Every Small Business Should Use

The key to running a successful small business is keeping costs down and production/service delivery efficient. This is easier said than done. Some tools have been developed to boost productivity and efficiency while others are built to eliminate downtime and manage risk. Let’s take a look at some of the technology your business should be using.

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Is the Hybrid Cloud Something You Should Consider?

Is the Hybrid Cloud Something You Should Consider?

Cloud solutions are extremely popular among modern businesses, whether they rely on public cloud resources or maintain their own in-house private cloud. Some businesses, however, elect to take the middle ground and use a “hybrid” cloud solution. Let’s take a few moments to determine if your business could benefit from this approach.


First, let’s examine what makes a cloud solution a “hybrid” one.

What is a Hybrid Cloud Solution?

As Peter Mell and Timothy Grance defined in Special Publication 800-145 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the hybrid cloud deployment model is defined with the following excerpt:

“The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).”

Or in other words, two different cloud models that function separately, but are both used for regular business operations. Some businesses elect to run their operations and applications on a private cloud solution, but use public cloud platforms for their backup and disaster recovery needs.

Benefits and Challenges of a Hybrid Cloud Approach

There are quite a few benefits that a hybrid cloud approach has to offer, including:

  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: You have the option to focus the hybrid cloud exclusively on your continuity strategy. With a backup in both a public cloud and private cloud, your chances of not having access to your data when you need it are effectively eliminated.
  • Better Control-to-Need Ratio: Combining private and public cloud solutions together allows you to ensure you have the control over some elements of your business, while the public cloud allows you to better scale to meet your needs.
  • Cost Benefits: There is no denying that some projects are too big to efficiently run on a private cloud. A hybrid cloud approach allows you to both keep your data secure while accessing the processing power a public cloud platform can provide.

However, the hybrid cloud does have some inherent challenges that could prohibit you from benefiting from its use.

  • Lack of Visibility: In a hybrid cloud system, it can be difficult to keep track of where your data is being stored, and whether you are investing more than you need in one of its parts. This can have detrimental effects on your budget.
  • Complicated Security: Even though your cloud vendors are putting forth their best efforts, the security of your data is your responsibility, and the marriage between public and private clouds introduces additional risks.
  • Bottleneck Concerns: When data moves between public and private clouds, there could easily be a bottleneck somewhere in your network, creating severely negative impacts.

Still not sure if the hybrid cloud is right for you? Reach out to The Connection, Inc and find out! Give our experts a call at (732) 291-5938.

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Tip of the Week: Useful OneDrive Features

Tip of the Week: Useful OneDrive Features

Microsoft has a well-developed reputation for creating software that enables users to achieve their work objectives, especially in the business setting. Here, we’re diving into a few capabilities of one such software title, OneDrive, to review some of the features that a user might want to take advantage of.


If you are unfamiliar with Microsoft OneDrive, you should know that it is a cloud storage platform that is known for its utility to a business of any size. The need for organization doesn’t discriminate between large and small operations.

In light of this, let’s begin by reviewing how OneDrive can make file organization even more convenient.

Files On-Demand

This capability allows your users to link their computers’ File Explorer to OneDrive. This gives them the ability to work with files stored in OneDrive without having to download them. This both saves room in the device’s onboard storage, and allows offline work if the right settings are enabled.

Outlook Integration

One of the biggest drawbacks to collaborating on Office documents by sharing them through email is that doing so creates a duplicate file to send over. Therefore, different copies will contain different edits, adding to overall confusion. OneDrive removes that confusion by sharing access to a document when shared through Microsoft Outlook, giving the recipient permission to edit the original file. As a result, true collaboration is actually achieved.

Known Folder Move

While we aren’t suggesting that this should replace a comprehensive data backup, OneDrive does feature a very simple backup-adjacent feature. Known Folder Move will synchronize certain folders to OneDrive automatically, giving users a second copy of their contents. You have the option to enable this when first setting up OneDrive, as well as any time afterwards.

Have you used OneDrive before? Did you know about these features? Share your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to reach out to us with any of your IT-related questions!

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Are You Wasting Money on Cloud Services?

Are You Wasting Money on Cloud Services?

Cloud services have proven to be extraordinarily useful for businesses of all types. With an immense amount of options to choose from, businesses can get anything from AI to Windows in the cloud. With so many services available, sometimes businesses will pay for computing resources that they don’t use, cutting into their available operational capital. Today, we take a look at how businesses throw capital away by not keeping a close eye on their cloud-based resources.  

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How Cloud Services and Pizzerias Offer Similar Benefits

How Cloud Services and Pizzerias Offer Similar Benefits

When you look at the cloud service business model, it can be easy to wonder how it is so beneficial to businesses - or really, how it fiscally can be. After all, dollars to donuts, the monthly service charges most likely add up to less than a business would spend for another, comparable service. To understand how the cloud does this, it may help to look at something that often occurs in the office.


Let’s say, ordering lunch.

How the Cloud is Like a Lunch Order

Cost Efficiency

Let’s say you are at work, and you decide you want pizza for lunch, as do some of your coworkers. Now, you could each purchase a slice or two for $5, and everyone would be happy. However, if you bought an entire pizza pie for $15 by pooling your money, there’s a good chance that each person could get the same amount of pizza for a more affordable cost.

This is essentially how cloud services work. Because you are just storing your data, applications, or what have you on someone else’s computer, you pay them rent for the privilege, as well as to support their maintenance of the infrastructure required. Admittedly, this sounds like it would be more expensive than just purchasing and maintaining the infrastructure itself - but there’s a key difference with cloud services.

That difference is you often aren’t the only one using that infrastructure.

Just like multiple people pitching in for a pizza ultimately comes out to be less expensive than each person buying their slices individually, multiple businesses paying to support a cloud infrastructure provides each of them with a better deal.

Reduced Maintenance

This combination of leasing their share of the cloud and contributing to its upkeep also allows the business to avoid large, surprise costs.

Let’s say that, to continue the lunch metaphor, you decide to make your pizza one day, but the dough you bought at the grocery store is rancid. As a result, not only is your pizza no longer edible, you are out the money you spent on its ingredients. This is the same experience of a business that is managing an internal solution and encounters an issue with it. Now, outsourcing your cloud needs to a service provider is more like ordering a pizza out - if there is something wrong with it when it is delivered, it isn’t your responsibility to make it right - it’s the cloud provider’s/pizzeria’s.

Productivity

Finally, just like ordering a pizza, cloud services allow you to better utilize your time to accomplish more. Both making a pizza and (albeit on a much grander scale) maintaining an infrastructure can be time-intensive tasks, which means that either will prevent you from taking care of other matters. Turning to an outsourced resource, like a pizzeria or a cloud provider, means that this time is freed up… which leaves you available to carry out other tasks that could help generate revenue. Furthermore, you will also have more space to be productive, as both can be remotely accomplished and delivered to your location, eliminating the need for bulky (and potentially expensive) pizza ovens/servers.

Do cloud services sound like an appetizing option for your business? Reach out to the professionals at The Connection, Inc to learn more! Give us a call at (732) 291-5938.

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Four Ways Cloud Storage Can Benefit Your Business

Four Ways Cloud Storage Can Benefit Your Business

Cloud solutions have proven their value in many different business applications, a major one being the ability to use a cloud service as a storage solution. By doing so, a business can enjoy a few additional advantages as compared to one that relies on more traditional storage solutions.

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Using the Private Cloud Adds Security to Your Databases

Using the Private Cloud Adds Security to Your Databases

Cloud-based databases are valuable for businesses on plenty of levels, but when you consider how much risk you expose your organization to by using a public cloud over a private solution, you suddenly start to realize that the ramifications could be far beyond repair. Compared to the public cloud, a private solution presents a greater opportunity for security, flexibility, and customization.

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How to Plan Your Data Storage Needs

How to Plan Your Data Storage Needs

If your business is looking to use technology beneficially, the ability to store data is going to be a major consideration you are going to have to confront. After all, not having enough storage space, or having too much, can be major problems for most businesses. Today, we’ll ask some of the most pressing questions you’ll need to answer to get the right (and the right amount of) storage space for your needs.

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Taking a Look at Cloud Growth

Taking a Look at Cloud Growth

In today’s modern business world, you’d be hard-pressed to find an organization that doesn’t utilize the cloud to at least some extent. Let’s take a dive into how businesses use the cloud to be more sustainable and efficient.

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Cloud-Based Communications Helping Businesses Boost Productivity

Cloud-Based Communications Helping Businesses Boost Productivity

The cloud is the perfect outlet for businesses to improve productivity, but the degree to which this statement is true depends on the business and how much it leverages the cloud. If you’re not sure if your business can be utilizing the cloud in a more efficient way, perhaps we can help you make this determination and improve the way you take advantage of this technology.

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Which Cloud-Hosted Solutions Will Work for Your Business

Which Cloud-Hosted Solutions Will Work for Your Business

These days, many businesses turn to hosted solutions to take advantage of services that they haven’t been able to use in the past. Whether it’s because they don’t have the staff to properly look after the services or they don’t have the in-house infrastructure for it, organizations continue to take advantage of hosted solutions to varying degrees. We’ll walk you through your options for whether you should build, rent, or buy your hosted solutions to best fit your business’ needs.

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Will You Be the Latest Business to Move Your Email to the Cloud?

Will You Be the Latest Business to Move Your Email to the Cloud?

The cloud helps many organizations expand their territories beyond simply the physical workplace. Employees can now access data and applications on any connected device. Your office can benefit considerably from cloud-based resources, with email in particular being a standout solution for the cloud.

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Cloud-Based Security Is Concerning for Small Businesses

Cloud-Based Security Is Concerning for Small Businesses

The cloud is such an important part of today’s business environment that most organizations use it to some extent, even if it’s just for basic storage needs. However, the cloud needs to be properly maintained, starting with the way you secure your cloud services. Take a moment to ask yourself if your cloud--whether it’s hosted on-site or by a provider--is safe and secure.


Here is a list of four major issues that many organizations have regarding their cloud security.

End-to-End Encryption
To protect data on your network, the most effective method is to encrypt it. Encryption jumbles the data, making it difficult for hackers and other malicious entities to read the data unless they have also stolen an encryption key to decrypt the files. Encryption is there to put the user’s mind at ease, as it provides the knowledge that even in a worst-case scenario, your data is safe.

Physical Security Measures
If you don’t host your data on-site, you need to make sure that the data center you use is protected against not just digital intruders, but invaders who would use physical access to infiltrate the systems. You should have some combination of armed security patrols, biometric authentication procedures, and monitoring to keep intruders out. If you host in-house, you need to consider many of these same solutions. You should always have your servers being monitored, while being stored in the most secure locations possible.

Compliance Regulations
Various industries are subject to specific compliance laws that need to be adhered to, lest they face fines that could cripple even the soundest budget. For example, any business that uses health records to any extent is subject to HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This means that they must take specific measures to protect any of this information or face steep fines.

Standard (Scalable) Security Measures
The same security measures you want to use in-house should also be protecting your cloud-based infrastructure. These measures include antivirus, firewalls, a spam blocker, and content filter. All of these measures are implemented to keep your cloud solution as safe as can be from any threats bold enough to attack, whether they are internal or external. An enterprise-level Unified Threat Management solution is critical to the success of this endeavor, and it’s the best way to make sure your business’ assets remain secured.

The Connection, Inc can help your business keep its cloud resources secure. To learn more, reach out to us at (732) 291-5938.

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Cloud Can Cover Most of Your Business Needs

Cloud Can Cover Most of Your Business Needs

The traditional computing structure has been under siege by cloud computing for the past several years. More businesses than ever are seeing the value in cloud-hosted applications and infrastructure, and while that may not be a huge surprise, the perceptions that the cloud can solve any of your organizational computing problems depend largely on the needs of that endeavor. Today, we will take a look at successful small business cloud strategies and tell you why they find success.


Cloud for File Sharing
File sharing is the number one reason any small business moves some of their computing to the cloud. Cooperation is essential to small business success, and a cloud-based file sharing solution gives any small business near-ubiquitous access to data. This access allows work to be completed from multiple locations, giving the small businesses great benefit as it makes them competitive with larger organizations who have more people and more resources. This allows small businesses to take charge over more of the market than ever before, increasing revenues and promoting business growth.

Cloud for Communications
Another avenue a lot of small businesses are taking is using cloud-hosted communications services. Like many other cloud-hosted applications, it can save a company quite a bit of money switching to a VoIP system or public-cloud-hosted email solution. What about functionality? Cloud-hosted VoIP is actually a great solution for any organization looking for a feature-rich phone platform and wants to do away with their traditional phone bill. With feature-rich packages, any organization can get the customized VoIP solution that fits in their budget and provides them options for messaging, conferencing, and enterprise-level phone services.

Hosted email can provide a lot of benefits, as well. It eliminates the costs associated with the hosting and management of the email server, while providing users enhanced functionality that includes added message encryption, instant messaging integration, and much more.

Cloud for Storage
When you think about cloud storage, the first thing that must come to mind are the hundreds of gigabytes that many cloud storage providers just give away to anyone that signs up for their services; and the affordable options individual users can explore to gain a substantial amount of cloud storage space. The issue for small businesses is that public cloud hosted storage facilities don’t provide them the control over their data that most of them would like. This is why you see organizations building their own private cloud inhouse or collocate it to a data center where they have full control over the data.

The benefits of cloud storage are that data is accessible from anywhere, giving a business increased mobility that can definitely benefit them over time. The perceived lack of security that some organizations point to is largely in how their employees utilize the cloud interface, not the cloud environment itself, as it is likely highly encrypted. Many organizations have begun to use cloud storage interfaces for redundancy, making cloud-based backup and recovery solutions a fairly attractive option to secure backup files.

Cloud for Security
Nowadays, security is the top line-item for about any IT administrator. Since there is an abundance of threats every organization has to be cognizant of, it only makes sense that cybersecurity firms start offering their comprehensive network and cybersecurity services. In utilizing a SEaaS system IT administrators can leverage some of today’s most potent security solutions from the Internet. This provides a full cache of services to IT administrators.

Once you ascertain what threats you are up against, utilizing a Security as a service software will allow you to remote into any machine and set up high-end security services that can be customized to your organization's needs. These security services go a long way toward keeping software and hardware up to date with latest security permissions. There are options for anti-malware, content filtering, spam blocking, and more, making cloud security a good investment for the organization that depends on the Internet for their business.

The cloud has expanded to include almost any type of computing you can think of. For your business, it can be the answer to all questions your risk assessments have presented. For more information about hosted solutions and utility computing, call the IT professionals at The Connection, Inc today at (732) 291-5938.

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Can You Stay Compliant While Using the Cloud?

Can You Stay Compliant While Using the Cloud?

One of the inevitabilities of working with the cloud is that you have to face a tough question; what kind of compliance requirements are there for cloud-based data? If you’re storing data for your business in a cloud-based environment, it becomes your responsibility to know where and how this data is stored--particularly if you’re not the one doing the actual cloud hosting. How do you maintain compliance when you seemingly have so little control over how your computing platform is managed and maintained?


It all starts by asking your cloud provider specific questions about how compliance is handled, as well as what terms are written into the agreement that you have with them. We’ll go over some of the details that you’ll need to address.

The Cloud Can Be Tampered With
Naturally, one of the major concerns that businesses might have about cloud compliance is the idea of how this data is being managed, maintained, stored, and transferred. This also means that it can be changed or intercepted while it is in transit. Therefore, the key concern is that data could be changed without the user’s knowledge. Those who are concerned about the legal ramifications of this should focus on learning who is hosting the data, how it is being maintained, how it is being transported from the hosting site to your infrastructure, and who can see this data. This line is further blurred by the differences between the public and private cloud. In other words, is your data being stored alongside someone else’s data? Are there partitions put into place that limit access based on role and organization? The question of security is of the utmost importance and will be a major point that you’ll need to hit for compliance’s sake.

What Can You Do?
Using the above statements as a springboard, you’ll need to think about how your business plans on securing cloud-based data and ensuring its compliance with any regulations your organization is beholden to. You start by first assessing just how deep into cloud computing your organization actually is. Depending on the importance of certain data, you may decide that a combination of private and public cloud platforms present the ideal solution. For sensitive information, an internal network or private cloud is ideal, while less sensitive or important data is stored elsewhere.

Next, you’ll need to consider who is managing this data, and what kind of agreements you will have to make to guarantee its safety. Is it being managed by an in-house department or a third party? If it’s a third party, for example, you’ll need to determine responsibilities and consequences of failing to adhere to compliance guidelines. It’s also important that you know what types of security and backup solutions are being used to protect your assets.

Since your organizational reputation and integrity is on the line, your best bet is to find a way to design, deploy, and support a private cloud solution onsite for any data that could possibly be subject to regulatory compliance. Otherwise, you may find that any cloud-hosting company or colocation service won’t have your immediate needs top of mind.

The Connection, Inc can help your business ensure security of your cloud solutions. To learn more, reach out to us at (732) 291-5938.

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Can Hosted VoIP Be a Game Changer for Your Business?

Can Hosted VoIP Be a Game Changer for Your Business?

Many business transactions may be moving away from the telephone, but it is still a must-have for any business. Not everyone is Internet-savvy after all. Nowadays, there are plenty of telephone options out there, but only one carries no upfront hardware costs or a exorbitant fee structure: Hosted VoIP. Today, we will take a look at the benefits of cloud hosted VoIP, and how to get one working for your business today.


What is Cloud-Hosted VoIP?
Before we go into what cloud-hosted VoIP is, you have to understand what VoIP is. With Internet bandwidth increasing very quickly, there are now phone systems that work over an Internet connection rather through the traditional telephone infrastructure. As a result, Internet-based phone systems are growing in popularity. Called Voice over Internet Protocol, companies who were looking to take full control over their communications costs, started to purchase expensive PBX technology, hosting it in their place of business, and paying a VoIP provider per user. Sure it was expensive to start up, but once a company owned the hardware, costs normalized and the phone system was theirs to do with as they please.

Cloud-hosted VoIP moves the PBX platform from your server room to the cloud, removing the upfront hardware and maintenance costs that typically keep businesses from investing in their own telephone solution. With a cloud-hosted VoIP solution, you and your staff gain anytime-anywhere access to a feature-rich and reliable telephone system without the cost, headaches, and hassle that traditional telephone systems are often associated with.

Cloud-Hosted VoIP Features
While the main advantages to integrating a cloud-hosted VoIP system come from the transfer and reduction of cost, there are other benefits. Being able to quickly, and affordably, scale to your organization’s needs, provides you the opportunity to pay only what you need to pay, and not get locked into a lengthy and expensive long-term contract. If you need a new phone line, you can get one, and it will be reflected in next month’s bill.

Speaking of bills, the Cloud-hosted VoIP solution allows you to budget your communication costs based on your users, not on your whole system. This provides an advantage for project-oriented businesses, as they can easily add a phone when they need one and get rid of it when they don’t.

Another major benefit isn’t one you would typically expect. The security of cloud-hosted VoIP systems is solid. Your VoIP provider is in charge of your system’s hosting and security. As with most data center-based computing platforms, a cloud-hosted PBX server is completely protected with comprehensive disaster recovery protocols as well as ample physical security.

A lot of hosted-cloud VoIP options offer conferencing solutions and the opportunity to unify your organization’s communications platform. This can have several positive benefits including simpler management, cost reduction, and increased efficiency.

With Cloud-hosted VoIP at the center of your business’ communications, you can do more with less. For more information about the VoIP options The Connection, Inc has, call us today at (732) 291-5938.

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Why The Cloud Should be Approached Responsibly

Why The Cloud Should be Approached Responsibly

It can be argued that your organization isn’t considered “modern” without taking advantage of truly modern technology solutions. This includes the cloud, which provides anytime-anywhere access to important information or products. This type of access--also known as Product as a Service--can help your budget by eliminating large up-front costs in favor of smaller payments more regularly. This might seem ideal for your organization, but we urge you to take a step back and think about the solution before accepting terms of service without looking for extra hidden costs.

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Hazlet, New Jersey 07730