All posts by Matthew Hibberd

Workspace-as-a-service

What are the Benefits of Workspace as a Service and how do they differ from Desktop as a Service?

You may or may not know that we provide Workspace as a Service here at Coretek. So what is Workspace as a Service? Workspace as a service, or WaaS for short, is essentially a ‘business in a box’ that only needs a computer and an internet connection to get started. All of your business documents, emails and applications are available. WaaS can be accessed with many different types of devices and you can take advantage of collaboration services provided by Office 365 to further augment this.

You may have previously heard of Desktop as a Service but not Workspace as a Service. Workspace as a Service is a complete, managed solution, whereas Desktop as a Service is a self-managed solution. The positives of Coretek for management, advice and consultancy shine through for this type of service, so no technical knowledge is required, we do the setup and maintenance work for you. All you need is an internet line.

Not just a desktop – your whole business in a box

You have your own personal space and a secure space for your business files and applications. We fully support applications such as Sage Accounts, Basic PAYE tools or almost any other productivity application. Many of our existing clients have bespoke applications running in their environments as well.

Work from anywhere in the world

With the remote access capabilities, you can really work from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.

Requirements change? – Expert support you can talk to

CoretekCloud Workspace as a Service is a managed service and if your requirements change you can get in contact with us and we can make the alterations you require for your business to succeed. We can provide guidance on IT strategy, security and compliance, as well as technical implementation services.

Proactive security and support services

With CoretekCloud, almost every major security issue in the last year has been mitigated on day zero. We provide constant proactive maintenance and security solutions to make sure your business is safe.

Cost reductions from removing onsite hardware

If you have an on-site server, you are looking at continuous expenses which can add up. You will be looking to change your server every 5 years or so as technology is continuously improving and moving on. This can become very expensive, especially if you have multiple servers. With Workspace as a Service, you simply connect to your cloud environment which is hosted in our CoretekCloud data centre, which removes the cost of the on-site hardware. For our Cloud solution, you pay on a per-user, per-month basis. This works out as considerably cheaper and due to a regular recurring cost, it is easier to budget for.

Why do I need a Wi-Fi Survey or plan and what does it involve?

Are you looking to install a new wireless network? Or do you have an existing wireless network which is performing poorly?

If so, the first step is carrying out a wireless survey. We have put together this short guide to explain to process involved and what you should look for.

To begin with, you need to define what you really want from your wireless network. You may already have a strong idea of your needs, or you may not have any idea at all. If you find yourself in this situation, we have provided three vital questions to help:

  1. What is your desired coverage area? Where do you need wireless in your premises?
  2. What is your device capacity? How many devices are you planning on using?
  3. What will you use the network for? What programs or services will use the wireless? Will this be simple web browsing or something more complex?

Once you have answered these three questions, you should now be able to answer the question “What do you want from your wireless network?.

The next step is knowing if your network meets the three requirements listed above. This is done through a Wi-Fi survey or plan, which explains the reason for a survey and why it’s so vital. If you skip your Wi-Fi survey, it makes it much more difficult to ensure your wireless network will sufficiently meet your requirements.

Planning - APs-5GHz

Here you can see the results of a site survey using Ekahau.

So, we need a survey but how do we go about conducting the survey, making sure all aspects are covered? We do this by following the following steps:

Outline the initial requirements

The purpose of the network should now be defined but we must establish all of the required aspects to create a detailed plan. This includes understanding all of the areas that need coverage and if any areas are to be excluded. The plan will also need to consider any areas that cannot have access points installed. Finally, budget also needs to be considered. When providing a wireless proposal for a client, we would discuss budgets at this stage and advise what options are available.

Create a plan

Coverage can be easily achieved by flooding an area with access points. This, in reality, does not make for a good network. In fact this can introduce problems, not to mention the huge impact to any budget. This is where a good survey and planning will pay off.  A good plan will design an optimum environment for access point count, channel overlap, capacity requirements, signal propagation and coverage. This will in turn provide the right design to meet the wireless network requirements.

Visit the proposed location

No survey or plan can be considered truly complete until a site survey, with active equipment, has been conducted. The reason for this is there is no definitive way to understand what the existing environment looks like and what the signal propagation will be without going to site to conduct an active equipment survey. Here at Coretek, we carry out on-site surveys using the industry leading Ekahau Site Survey software. This takes into consideration the building itself and the factors listed above (devices, coverage, usage) and provides a detailed report on how to configure the wireless network for optimum performance.

Summary

So, should I have a Wi-Fi survey done? Only if you want your wireless network to work well! As described, this is the best way to ensure that the wireless network will work reliably, with the devices you wish to use and with coverage in the areas you need it.

If you have any questions about your wireless network set up or you would like to book your wireless survey contact us today! You can call us on 0800 304 7444 or email us at enquiries@Coretek.co.uk.

ransom-note-1

Petya Ransomware Attack Affecting Companies Globally

There have been many reports that many companies across the globe have been subject to another major ransomware cyber-attack, currently known to have affected over 12,500 machines in Ukraine alone.

The malware compromises the computer through the download of a legitimate application (a tax application called MEDoc was the first known instance) and then creates a task to restart the computer after 10-60 minutes.

The malware then encrypts the computer (pretending to be a disk check) and then demands a ransom of $300 in Bitcoins per computer to be paid. One Bitcoin is currently worth $2350!

petya ransomPetya Ransomware encrypting a computer.

These attacks come just two months after the WannaCry attack and use similar methods to spread throughout a network. Consumers that are using the latest Windows updates and definitions for their antivirus should be safe.

Additional information for technical users can be found here.

We can confirm that all of our clients are secured from this type of attack and the underlying vulnerability used to spread between computers. If you have been affected by this attack, or are worried about your compter security, get in contact with us today on 0800 304 7444 or enquiries@coretek.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

Secure-School-Gateway

So, what is Secure School Gateway?

You may of heard about it before, but you aren’t quite sure what it is or what it does. Coretek Secure School Gateway (SSG) is safe and secure home and remote working solution for schools, allowing staff to securely access school applications and data.

So, how does Secure School Gateway work?

Secure School Gateway is a home working solution that is easily accessible from a web portal. The portal simply requires you to enter your school username and password to gain access. Upon successful authorisation, you will see the school desktop which will provide you with everything you would normally use in school.

Why do we need Secure School Gateway?

Working from home or outside of school is now part of the modern work ethos and for some schools is an absolute necessity. Access to planning resources and other such information whilst out of school can present a headache (especially during holidays), with staff usually having to take work home on a memory stick to conduct such tasks. Coretek SSG removes the need to do this and has the ability for multiple staff to use the service simultaneously.

What can Coretek do for me?

We are aware that school staff require a secure, convenient and easy to use method for accessing school resources from home. The goal for Coretek was to develop a remote working solution that is easy to use, low cost and above all, secure.

When taking into account the sensitive nature of pupil information and other such data present on school networks, security concerns continue to be at the top of the agenda. For this reason, several security measures are built in the Secure School Gateway that make this solution both highly usable and as safe as possible, with the goal being an experience the same as being in-school. Here is an example of what the Secure School Gateway looks like from one of our schools:

Secure-School-Gateway

What is the technology behind your Secure School Gateway Service?

Secure School Gateway services is based upon Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, a secure industry leading technology designed to make remote access easy and seamless. In comparison to some competitors solutions this is more secure and scalable. The system is hosted and managed within the school and requires no additional hardware.

What are the key benefits of your Secure Gateway Service?

There are many benefits that the Secure School Gateway services offers. Here are a few of our key benefits:

  • It aligns with the requirements on secure data set by OFSTEDs eSafety Policy.
  • Multi user support meaning that staff can use the service at the same time.
  • No USB sticks are needed!
  • Ability to print to local printers.
  • Access from anywhere, on almost any device.
  • Ability to restrict use to certain users or groups.
  • SSL secured web portal and complex password requirements.
  • No additional hardware is needed.
How do I get Secure School Gateway?

Coretek are happy to carry out a free, live demonstration which will allow you to see first-hand how the platform works. We offer Secure School Gateway free of charge for all schools who take out our flexible Coretek Total Care support package. We will also license the platform for 5 initial users at no extra cost. Additional user licenses will need to be procured by the school, however these are very low cost to educational institutions, even more so if you are already using a licensing scheme such as Microsoft EES.

So if you want to know more about our service or want to book in your free live demonstration then please get in contact with us today! Call us on 0800 304 7444 or email us at enquries@coretek.co.uk, we hope to hear from you soon!

What is Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?

A Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) solution, as well as the associated technical and business plans, ensure that required (or all) business services can continue in the event of a critical service outage that exceeds a business defined limit. This outage may affect local infrastructure, or it may affect additional infrastructure or services that are business critical but hosted externally to the business. These external services may be covered by their own BCDR guarantees.

Essentially, Disaster Recovery is seen as a subset to Business Continuity which deals with many business wide concerns and plans for different types of unforeseen issues, whereas Disaster Recovery is a more focused look at how IT (and associated services like telephony) would continue in the event of a critical outage.

Business requirements for BCDR are the most important pieces of information to get right and should be done before any potential solution is considered. This is because a business with requirements for a same day Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and a 5-minute Recovery Point Objective (RPO), would require a very different (and generally more expensive) solution to a business that has requirements for a 5-day RTO and a one day RPO.

What are RTO and RPO?

The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the period of time following an incident within which a product, activity or service must be resumed, or resources must be recovered. For products, services and activities, the recovery time objective must be less than the time it would take for the adverse impacts that would arise as a result of not providing a product/service or performing an activity to become unacceptable. – ISO 22301

The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the point to which information used by an activity must be restored to enable the activity to operate on resumption. This can also be referred to as “maximum data loss”. – ISO 22301

Business requirements for both the return to operation time, as well as the return point all affect the technical requirements and the end solution, as these business requirements can have wide ranging consequences on the plan and the infrastructure used for recovery.

How does this affect my IT services?

As recovery objectives shorten, effort is usually put into providing high availability or ready to go substitute infrastructure for business services, as opposed to restoring services from a backup. As this involves either additional infrastructure sharing a load or standby infrastructure ready to step in, resources must be allocated to check and maintain this additional infrastructure.

For short recovery objectives it is also absolutely critical to place priorities around business services so that if multiple services are affected in the event of a disaster, work can be correctly prioritized to restore the business critical services first. This is instrumental in the formulation of a successful BCDR plan.

If either the recovery requirements are incorrect, or change, it is imperative that everyone concerned be notified immediately, as these objectives have a major effect on the solution and the technologies that provide it.

I think I need a BCD plan… What are my next steps?

Coretek have extensive experience in providing tailored BCDR solutions for almost any business requirements. Solution options are available leveraging either our CoretekCloud platform or a leading third party public cloud provider. Contact Coretek today on 0800 304 7444 or email us on enquiries@coretek.co.uk to find out more or to discuss your requirements.