If These Devices Could Talk

Keller Schroeder Applications Consultant Eric MaurerEric Maurer – [Applications Consultant]

What if your devices could talk? The Internet of Things (IoT) can start to do this! What is the IoT? Putting it simply, an IoT “thing” is nothing more than a physical device connected to the internet. The device can be your phone, your thermostat, a car, or any number of remote monitoring sensors. Experts estimate that by 2020 there will be about 30 billion IoT devices. There are devices that only 15 years ago did not exist for collecting data, or if they did exist, they were so remote getting to the data was difficult.

Internet of Things CollageRecently Keller Schroeder employee-owners Eric Maurer and Ian Welsh participated in an IoT Hackathon sponsored by AT&T. This hackathon provided opportunity to learn about new devices and software from AT&T in the IoT landscape. Devices, becoming smaller than ever, are now capable of running for weeks using batteries or solar power and can transfer data captured by dozens of different sensors over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or LTE.

Their team quickly realized the difficult part of developing an IoT solution is no longer centered on hardware and software but comes from using industry knowledge to find the right problems for which IoT is the solution. They decided to use AT&T’s LTE enabled IoT starter kit to collect real-time GPS data from commercial vehicles to collect and process their location and mileage information automatically. Their idea was just one of many great ideas that came out of the hackathon. Some of the other projects were:

  • Using drones to take pictures of tomato fields to determine overall ripeness and calculate the perfect time for harvest with image processing algorithms and machine learning
  • A smart tool locker using Bluetooth and NFC sensors to allow users to check equipment in and out
  • A small device with humidity and PH sensors to monitor soil in home gardens

The latest generation of IoT devices now connect securely to the cloud using Microsoft’s Azure or AT&T’s M2X. These solutions allow you to secure your devices and aggregate data from any number of devices and sensors in one central location. They also provide dashboards, event notifications, alerts, and two-way communication between devices. Sifting through the large amounts of data one can collect can be daunting. Companies are making it easier and easier to collect, process, and make sense of this data using cloud-based software, such as Azure Stream Analytics.

What would you do with IoT data? Have ideas and want to explore them further? Contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager or call us at 812-474-6825 today!


Veeam + Azure: Cost Effective & Flexible Cloud Backup

Matt Barton – [Senior Consultant]

Ok… 3 Questions, 30 Seconds, 300 Words…. about your backup solution.  This shouldn’t take long.

 


Question 1 :   Do you have an off-site backup? 

Yes?  Great!

No?  Why Not?  Using Veeam & Azure, quickly and easily create a cloud off-site backup, that is cost efficient & scalable based on your needs. Configure Veeam to backup the most critical data for DR, or provide long-term retention using cost-effective cloud storage. Azure charges are based on actual used capacity.  Unlike other cloud offerings or on-premises equipment, this solution provides a true consumption model, allowing you to shrink or grow the amount of data being backed up to more effectively manage costs.


Question 2 :  Does it meet the 3-2-1 rule?

The “Golden Rule” of backup.  The 3-2-1 rule states having three copies of your data – 2 on different media, and 1 copy offsite. We highly recommend Veeam integrated snapshots on Nimble Storage, copied to a Cisco UCS backup appliance, & then copied off-site to Azure.


Question 3 :  Are you able to backup Office 365 data?

You need to securely backup Office 365 email data back to your environment for a variety of reasons; to follow the 3-2-1 Rule of backup, to facilitate eDiscovery, and to meet internal policies and compliance requirements. The most important reason being the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you will be able to restore your users’ data when needed!

With Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, you can retrieve Office 365 Exchange Online mailbox items (email, calendar, and contacts) from a cloud-based instance of Office 365 and uniquely back up this mailbox data into the same format that Microsoft Exchange uses natively — an archive database based on Extensible Storage Engine (ESE), also known as the Jet Blue database.


Interested in hearing more or want to schedule a Veeam & Azure Demo?  Reach out to your Keller Schroeder Account Manager today!


“Are You Azure It’s a-Ready?

KS Spaghetti

Rob Wilson[Business Unit Director – Application Solutions]

Hint: You have to say it with an Italian accent, like “That’s one spicy a-meatball!”

In our neck of the woods, folks tend to watch with a curious skepticism as the bleeding-edge early adopters go through the pains of “beta testing” newer technologies. Some call it “reluctant to change” and others call it “conservative”. We level-headed, hard-working mid-westerners simply call it “prudent”. While we have all likely seen an uptick in cloud adoption, many of our clients are still being…prudent…and that’s understandable. Hopefully by now, you know our philosophy that all solutions do not belong in the cloud, and you should choose what is best for your business case. However, some solutions do make the most sense to run in the cloud, and Hybrid Cloud (cloud technologies working in conjunction with on-premises technologies) is what we believe will be the norm.

As a MicrKS Azure Logoosoft Gold Certified Partner, one of our go-to cloud platforms is Microsoft Azure. We have been prudent as well regarding Azure. Even as we adopted Office 365 for Email (Exchange Online) and collaboration (SharePoint Online), we took a more conservative approach with Azure. Our chief concerns were about the stability of the platform and the rapid pace at which the services and administration tools seemed to change. We stayed in close contact with Microsoft and other partners, and the message that seemed to resonate was: “Azure services are mostly being adopted for development and testing environments, but there has not been a significant increase in production adoptions.” Microsoft was working hard to address concerns, and we continued to grow our experience through application development in our lab environments.

Fast forward many months, and now the scale is starting to tip. Microsoft Azure has continued to evolve at a rapid pace, claiming a decent amount of market share and adding to its customer list. We have watched prices drop, services added, and more consistent user experiences. We have used Azure in production environments and it has proven to be a cost-effective, reliable alternative – at least for the use cases where we have employed it. We have used Azure Virtual Machines for several internal and client use cases – including public web sites, web services, extranet applications, and reporting dashboards – and Microsoft has remained true to the up-time promised in their Service Level Agreement. This approach has helped some of our clients avoid incurring the cost of additional hardware and even reduce the project timeline. As one of my clients put it (paraphrased): “I’m in the manufacturing industry, not IT. Put the solution where it is cost-effective, easy to manage, quick to deploy, and reliable. I’ll stick to making what I make.”

Currently, we are working on projects that utilize the SQL Database services and App Services, just two of the many services now offered on Azure. We have clients and partners exploring other services as well. If you are interested in knowing what we have tried and what we have not, please reach out to us and start the conversation. You can “rest Azured” (that was bad) we will be transparent.

 


Azure Rights Management Service from Microsoft

Microsoft Azure

Chance Webster – [Systems Engineer]

We have all seen stories on the news about company information being accidentally disclosed because of employee error or stolen during a breach of a company’s security infrastructure.  In many cases, company’s data is critical and confidential, and protecting this vital asset is a high priority.  The problem that organizations often face is protecting the company’s data within a budget that adequately aligns with the risk of data loss.

 

While there are many solutions available, Microsoft has developed a strong solution with the Azure Rights Management Service which natively integrates with many applications already in use within the business.  The Azure Rights Management Service is a cloud based Rights Management platform that provides a holistic approach to protecting your information within the Office 365 platform.  This service allows information owners to maintain access controls over the data that is being sent via email, stored on portable media, or even within the organization.  In addition, Azure Rights Management can be configured to provide notifications, either on-demand or by using a Rights Management template, that the data has been accessed by authorized users or that unauthorized access has been attempted.  Additionally, as part of the Azure Rights Management Premium service, this same protection can be extended to your on-premise Exchange, SharePoint, and File servers without a need for additional infrastructure that typically requires significant effort to implement and maintain.

 

Azure Rights Management Devices

An additional feature of the Azure Rights Management service is the Office 365 Message Encryption service.  This service provides an easy to use email encryption platform that requires very little setup and integrates with your existing email infrastructure.  Internal users can easily encrypt emails without a need for cumbersome setup time or need to exchange email certificates with a recipient in order to send an encrypted message.  Recipients of messages encrypted by the Office 365 Message Encryption service will find it easy to use and without a need for any additional setup.

 

The Azure Rights Management service is included in the Office 365 E3 and E4 plans or available for separate purchase for use with other Office 365 plans.  For on-premise infrastructure or for additional features such as tracking of RMS protected documents, Azure Rights Management Premium is available for separate purchase or as part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite or Enterprise Cloud Suite.

 

For more detailed information on Azure Rights Management Service and how it may help with protection of your organization’s data, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.