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30 Oct 2020
Getting to Know: Granite Telecommunications
I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlie Pagliazzo, VP of Channel at Granite Telecommunications about the company and its history, telecommunications product and service offerings, and future B2B information technology trends.[Bob] Before we get started, tell me a little bit about yourself, background,and history with Granite?Thanks, Bob. I joined Granite 17 years ago to establish the companys channel program. I was in the industry prior to that, and over those ten years, I had responsibilities including direct sales management, international wholesale distribution, and data center operations.Building and growing Granite Channels has been and continues to be the most enjoyable opportunity Ive been associated with, mainly being part of a great team and providing solutions for professional agent partners to utilize with their clients. Its that team and those partners that have made it possible for Granite Channels to be a significant part of Granites overall success. Today Channels accounts for over $250 million in annual revenue, and were looking to top $300 million within a year.[Bob] Tell me about Granite? What does Granite do in simple terms? What are you focused on? What is your top service offering?In simple terms - Granite and its agent partners help customers manage their voice and data requirements more efficiently, reducing costs and providing a single point of contact and one invoice across all locations. Granite provides voice, data, and other services to multi-location businesses across the US and Canada and supports US federal, state, and local governmental agencies. With over $1.5B in annual revenue, Granite services more than 1.75 million voice and data lines and supports more than two-thirds of Fortune 100 companies.We are focused on the transformation of client legacy telecom services. Specifically, leveraging technology to meet those clients organizational goals while reducing costs and providing a full range of advanced communications solutions: including Internet Access, SD-WAN, Wireless WAN, Hosted PBX, SIP Trunking, Mobile Voice and Data, Mobile Device Management, Managed Security and Network Integration.As for top service offerings, Granite has been consolidating and supporting Plain Old Fashion Telephone Service (POTS) since the companys inception and quickly became by far the largest provider in that space. POTS support and internet access continue to be an important part of the value proposition we present to prospects. Adding to that though, over half of new orders are for our proprietary data network and IP voice platform, SD-WAN options, a rapidly growing mobility offering, and network integration solutions. The transformation is happening both for our clients and within Granite.[Bob] Where do you see Granite in the next 5 years, 10 years? What is your long-term focus?Long-term is really the keyword. Granite is all about growth, adding more solutions for our clients and prospects to consider. As a privately held company, with no outside investors and having zero debt, we look to continue helping end-users be more efficient and effective without us considering Wall Street or venture capital investors concerns. In 5 years, 10 years, and beyond, we look to ensure more end-users can access our solutions and be considered the premier provider of services to multi-location entities, private and public.Having been selected to be one of the Federal governments Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions providers, the solutions we are developing to meet the governments needs will also create more service options for enterprise clients. Continuing to build our network, providing more network design and technical support, and then leveraging our volume will benefit our partners and the end-user for years to come.[Bob] What are you seeing in terms of network infrastructure demand? Is it SD-WAN vs. MPLS Networks?Its very much going to SD-WAN. Granite made the decision to offer multiple SD-WAN solutions, to the point you can say we are provider agnostic so that the right option for a particular client is implemented. We are not going to shoehorn a solution for our own benefit. Those offerings are enhanced by the myriad of connectivity solutions Granite delivers. Also, there are still outliers that utilize MPLS, and Granites network provides MPLS network services across the country to serve those outliers such as large financial institutions and government agencies. It is interesting to note that even the government is starting to utilize SD-WAN now. Just this month, a sizeable and well-known federal agency chose Granite to implement its SD-WAN solution.[Bob] Who are your typical customers? Size? Industry? Vertical?Our typical customers are large and medium-sized enterprises, specifically multi-location companies, and government entities and agencies. Our enterprise clients span across a wide array of industries and verticals healthcare, retail, financial, transportation, restaurant, utilities, and more. As Granites portfolio of solutions expands, were engaging and supporting a more comprehensive range of clients than ever before. For our partners, thats making the Granite offering more productive for them than ever before.[Bob] Where does Granite offer its services? Available markets? Regions? Domestic or International?Granite solutions are offered nationwide throughout the US and Canada; were built to support that footprint.[Bob] What is Granite known for? What are your top service offerings today?As mentioned previously, Granite quickly became the largest POTS provider in the nation to multi-location enterprises. While we continue to process a 5-figure number of new POTS lines every month, we have expanded our solutions to offer the latest technology for voice and network needs. Hosted voice, hosted PBX, SIP, and solutions across our proprietary network provide clients with flexibility and cost savings as they leverage their network connectivity, from broadband to fiber to wireless, all delivered by Granite. The explosion of SD-WAN and mobility used by businesses today is reflected in our significant SD-WAN offerings, along with other managed service such as network monitoring,Two additional solutions that our partners can leverage to engage prospects and generate commissions are Granite Grid and Network Integration. Granite Grid offers management companies and their tenants voice and data services with a certified support team. We provide data connectivity malls and buildings, allowing the management company to ensure its tenants have high-speed symmetrical bandwidth delivered over fiber. Network Integration is Granites response to businesses needs for turnkey infrastructure solutions; complimentary services such as same-day technician dispatch, smart hands deployment, equipment management and physical installation, along with design and build capabilities including green build, WiFi design and installation. Clients get, starting with site evaluation, a developed and engineered scope of work. Granite project manages the installation and solution, then provides whats called second day support of the service, ongoing management. Design, build, and service from one provider.[Bob] What is something about Granite that not many people know? What do you want people to know about Granite?If I could, Ill share two things that say a lot about Granite, both as a provider and as an organization. First, Granite has over 2500 employees to support the clients our partners bring to us. We offer a 24/7/365 customer service group on-site at our Boston Network Operations Center that answers client calls with a live voice in less than 8 seconds. We also have dedicated account support representatives for every client, a highly trained and technology certified NOC and network engineering group, and customer-facing sales engineers. Granite is committed to client satisfaction. Thats reflected in an industry-leading retention rate that allows our partners to recommend Granite with confidence.Second, the Granite culture is defined not only by a work-ethic that allows that level of support to be delivered but also by its commitment to our communities. Through our Granite Gives Back program, Granites ownership and employees donate both time and money to worthy causes. Last year, over 12,500 hours of volunteer time was worked by our employees in our communities. We have donated $220 million to organizations committed to helping others. Granites commitment to philanthropy defines us as individuals.
29 Oct 2020
Ransomware: Complete Guide to Understanding Cyber Attacks
What is ransomware? How does it work? Why is it spreading? When it comes to cybersecurity, these are a few of the top questions that individuals, businesses, and governments have about this global cybersecurity threat.The most frightening fact about ransomware attacks is that you never know who the next victim will be or when and it could be you. And in todays digital world, preventing ransomware attacks can literally mean the difference between life and death.In this article, I will define what ransomware is and how it works. I will uncover who is responsible for creating and spreading it. I will look at current trends and statistics behind ransomware attacks as well as examples. We will end by examining best-practices for preventing ransomware.What is Ransomware?What is ransomware? Ransomware is defined as a type of malware that encrypts victims files or folders. In order to decrypt the files and folders locked by ransomware, victims must pay a ransom to their attacker. In certain cases, victims can be locked out of applications and entire IT systems causing a significant disruption to their business or organization. Whats more, ransomware can spread from file-to-file and user-to-user.Ransomware payments granting access to a secret key range from hundreds of dollars to thousands or even hundreds of thousands. These payments are typically made in the form of cryptocurrency payments. This includes privacy coins that are relatively untraceable such as Monero, ZCash, Verge, Dash, and others. In some cases, it may be Bitcoin payments, but it is well known that Bitcoin itself is now traceable unless using a cryptocurrency mixer (tumbler).How Do You Know If You Have Ransomware?How do you know if you are the victim of ransomware? You may not know until it is too late, and your files and folders are infected. However, you will know once it is obvious that your system has been infiltrated by ransomware.In the typical scenario, a ransomware victim will try to open a file on their computer. They will receive a disturbing pop-up that tells them that their system has been encrypted and locked. Within the pop-up, there will be instructions for paying the ransom and accessing a secret key to decrypt the file. There is usually a countdown timer for making the payment to the attacker.How Does Ransomware Work?There are quite a few ways that ransomware can gain access to your computers and systems. However, the most common delivery method is phishing spam. This is where attachments are sent to the victims email, masquerading as a trustworthy document or file. As soon as you click, open, and download a file, the ransomware creates a backdoor to gain control of your computer and files.Another method, which is more complex, exploits security holes to infect computers without having to trick the user into installing the ransomware. The best example of this type of ransomware is NotPetya.There are a few courses that the malware may take while inside your computer. The most common action is of course to encrypt some or all of the victims files. However, other types of ransomware include doxware and leakware. This is where the attacker threatens to expose or publicize sensitive data on your hard drive unless the ransom is paid. This is far more complex and far less common than standard ransomware attacks.Who Are Targets for Ransomware Attacks?Are you a ransomware target? Hackers often attack victims that they feel are the most vulnerable to an attack and inclined to pay a ransom quickly. The majority of ransomware attacks seem to be targeted at schools and universities, government agencies, local governments, financial and healthcare industries. It is often the businesses and organizations that need immediate access to their files and systems.Its important to note that everyone is a potential target of ransomware. Just because you may not fit the categories mentioned above, does not mean that you will not be the next victim. There are some types of ransomware that spread automatically and indiscriminately attack victims over the internet.Are Ransomware Attacks Increasing or Decreasing?Are ransomware attacks increasing or decreasing? The simple answer is yes. According to a recent study, ransomware attacks have grown significantly over 2020 as hackers and cybercriminals look to cash in on new security vulnerabilities created by remote working and the pandemic.The daily number of global ransomware attacks have increased by 50% over the past three months from July to October. Another startling fact is that the number of ransomware attacks in the United States has almost doubled. More ransomware attacks can be expected as adoption for remote working increases.What Happens if You Get Ransomware?What should you do if your computer is infected with ransomware? Is there anything you can do other than paying the ransom? Here are a few quick steps to eliminate ransomware from your computer.Reboot your computer right away.Run a scan of your system with antimalware software if you have it.Purchase and install antimalware software if you do not have it.Try restoring your computer to a previous restore point.Keep in mind that most ransomware is sophisticated and cannot be removed using this method.How to Avoid Ransomware?How can you and your colleagues avoid ransomware attacks? There are several defensive actions that you can take to help limit your risk. Most of these measures are great cybersecurity practices and can help prevent other types of hacking attacks and data breaches.Maintaining Operating System (OS) It is critical that you have you make sure that your OS is up-to-date and that all security patches are installed. This will help make certain that there are fewer vulnerabilities to exploit.IT Security Training Education IT security training, education, and procedures are perhaps one of the most important steps to preventing an attack. Make sure that your colleagues know not to install software or provide administrative privileges if they are unsure exactly what it is and who it is from.Antivirus Software Having antivirus software to scan incoming emails and attachments can block and provide warnings to users. It can also prevent unauthorized applications from executing through security procedures. Top Anti-Virus Software includes Bitdefender Antivirus, Norton AntiVirus, and Kaspersky Anti-Virus.Desktop as a Service (DaaS) For businesses and organizations that want additional control over their users, a cloud-based DaaS can help by providing centralized management and security. Cloud DaaS solutions include Dizzion Managed DaaS, AWS Workspaces, and Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop.Offsite Backup Backing up your files, folders, and applications on a computer or server are important for disaster recovery and business continuity. This does not prevent attacks, but it may allow for continued operations. Cloud DRaaS solutions include Rackspace DR Managed Backup, TierPoint DRaaS, Expedient DRaaS.Ransomware ExamplesDid you know that ransomware has been around since the 1990s? Here is a list of a few of the most recognizable ransomware attacks and versions out there today.CryptoLocker (2013) Infected up to 500,000 MachinesWannaCry Spread Autonomously from Computer to ComputerSamSam (2015) Targets Healthcare IndustryLocky (2016) Attacks Banking Software DridexLethalLocker (2017) Locks Android Home Screens on Mobile DevicesWysiwye (2017) Scans the Web for Open Remote Desktop AccessCerber (2017) Takes Advantage of Microsoft VulnerabilitiesGrndCrab Most Successful Ransomware in History. Netted $2 Billion DollarsThanos (2020) Ransomware as a Service (RaaS). Skips Most Anti-Ransomware Methods.Conclusion: No One is Safe from RansomwareIt can be easy to overlook cybersecurity threats like ransomware with the mindset that it will never happen to you. If you maintain the motto that no one is safe from ransomware, you will take the actions necessary to prevent it, shore up vulnerabilities, and limit your risk.Ransomware is not going to go away. It is not going to become easier to detect and prevent. As antimalware companies release new products, hackers create new tools to get around detection and prevention. The financial incentive is just too great to ignore for the skilled hacker and programmers that build and distribute ransomware.The best approach to preventing ransomware attacks is to stay vigilant. That means making sure that your OS is up-to-date and patched, your colleagues understand the threat and you have the right cybersecurity procedures and checks in place.Want to learn more about cybersecurity hardening. Contact me to learn more about scheduling a free consultation with a cybersecurity expert at Datacenters.com. Our trained experts can provide you with penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, education, and training. They can help provide security monitoring services and software.
29 Oct 2020
Getting to Know: Pegasus Data Center Cleaning
My interview today is with Brett Tyrell, the Director of National Data Center Cleaning Sales at Pegasus.Pegasus helps data center operators across the U.S. keep their facilities clean and contamination-free. Expertly trained specialists clean all types of environments, ranging from call centers and NOCs to web hosting, colocation, and hyperscale data center facilities.Lets get started.[Bob] Tell me a little bit about the company, history, and your role with the company?[Brett]Pegasus began in 1969 as a full-service janitorial firm serving the Southern California business community and has evolved into the premier nation-wide facility services company with more than 1,000 employees serving over 300 facilities.Pegasus recognized the growth and unique cleaning needs of companies operating in critical environments and extended its cleaning solutions by specializing inData Center Cleaning.We have a unique record of success and longevity in the cleaning industry. This, combined with a depth of experience and wide geographic coverage, means we can meet all critical environment facility needs.Pegasus has worked with over 100 data centers, including the biggest most recognizable private and public data center providers in the industry in several counties of Los Angeles, and San Diego, and throughout California, as well as New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and even Canada.My role at Pegasus is the Director of National Data Center Cleaning Sales and I help companies identify which cleaning needs are best suited for their specific data center environment.[Bob] What does Pegasus offer in terms of products and services?[Brett]Pegasus Data Center Cleaning Services helps major data center operators across the U.S. keep their facilities clean and contamination-free. Expertly trained specialists clean all types of environments, ranging from call centers and command centers to web hosting, data processing, colocation, and telecom facilities. Pegasus expertly trained and supervised technicians pride themselves on time and in uniform.You wont ever have to wait on Pegasus to be on the job, wasting your valuable time and money. We believe in getting it right the first time, so you dont have to worry about extensive or unnecessary downtime.We leverage innovative technology and advanced cleaning processes and skilled professionals to ensure that your data center environment exceeds the industrys highest standards for contamination control, maintenance, and safety.Specialty data center cleaning services include:General cleaningSubfloor equipment surface cleaningSubfloor sealing and encapsulationEnvironmental sampling and reportingDisaster recovery cleaningAnti-static floor care and monitoring[Bob] Tell us more about the industry? Wheres it going?[Brett]We are currently seeing more and more colocation facilities as these businesses are outsourcing the power and space to have coverage all over the world. This is a growing industry and the more facilities being opened will mean more opportunities for the data center cleaning industry to grow.[Bob] What are you seeing in the market? What are some trends in your space?[Brett]The industry has been booming across the United States for the last five years or so. Most companies these days are moving their on-site critical environment/data centers to colocation or the cloud.Were seeing strong demand from the colocation and hyperscale data center providers that are building new facilities or expanding existing ones. Data center cleaning plays an important role during the initial buildout and construction as well as ongoing maintenance of the facility.In terms of areas where we are seeing the most demand for our data center cleaning services, Phoenix, Northern Virginia, Denver, Los Angeles, Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Dallas, Houston, and Oklahoma City have all been very strong. We work with many of the leading colo providers, hyperscalers, and data center construction companies in the US.[Bob] Why Pegasus? What sets you apart from your peers?[Brett] Pegasus is an employee-owned company that takes pride in our employees and customer service levels.We have our data center front line employees trained to the cleaning standards set by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) when it comes to cleaning these critical environments. Our ISO certification is ISO 9001:2015. With the seasoned staff members and our extensive hands-on and video training, we provide our team training that is above our competition.[Bob] What locations and markets do you offer your services in?[Brett]Pegasushas an HQ in San Diego, but we have focused and committed to going to where our customers need us to be.We currently cover all of the United States and parts of Canada. Most of our data center cleaning opportunities have been on the West Coast and Midwest at this stage. We have a few companies that would like us to expand into the east coast and there are thoughts of potentially starting up a new location to have these areas covered.
23 Oct 2020
Data Center Power Optimization: Increase Efficiency with a Data Center Audit
For the past decade, the data center industry has received a lot of attention relating to power consumption and inefficiencies, energy sources, and carbon footprint. After all, its well-known that data centers are one of the largest consumers of electricity in the world.Thats not all, the societal focus on climate change and natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and droughts have only compounded the importance of the issue. The result? A sense of urgency by nearly all organizations to review, innovate, and change their power sources and energy management practices.How have data centers responded? Many have met the challenge head-on working to reducing consumption, increasing efficiency, and exploring renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. The data center is changing. Its companies like Amazons AWS, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle, IBM, and Alibaba that are leading the charge and setting new standards for the industry.In this article, Ill present a few stats on the data center industry and power consumption. Ill also look at the opportunities that exist in the industry and how a data center energy audit and assessment can be used to improve efficiency in the data center.Data Centers Power ConsumptionHow many data centers are there in the world? According to a report by Statista, there are approximately 7.2 million data centers worldwide. Experts predicted that the number of data centers would increase with technology advancements and adoption. However, the opposite occurred. The total number of data centers has declined by 1.3 million since 2015 when the number of data centers totaled 8.5 million.What about data center power consumption? According to an article published in2017, USdata centers consumed more than 90 billion (kWh) of electricity. How much power is that? Its the equivalent of 34 massive coal-powered plants generating 500 megawatts (MW) each. Globally, data center power consumption amounted to about 416 tera-watts (TWh), or roughly three percent of all electricity generated on the planet.Furthermore, the growth rate of data center power consumption has also not grown as quickly as anticipated. Total data center power consumption has grown by 6% since 2010. During that same time period, data center compute instances increased by 550%. Why? Servers, storage devices, network infrastructure, and other IT hardware that operate within the data center are more efficient now than ever before. Datacenter operators are also doing a better job with efficiency gains.However, theres still a need for continuous improvement and innovation as it relates to data center power consumption and efficiency.Data Center Energy Audits AssessmentsWhere to start? Youre ready. Youve decided to explore available options but are unsure where to start. Does it make sense to start with a data center energy audit and power assessment? What does that entail? It depends on who you ask.There are several different types of audits and assessments to consider. They include a walkthrough audit, comprehensive audit, and investment-grade audit. Based on your needs, you may have to hire one or more companies or consultants to help with your project. Companies like AppSmart Energy can help point you in the right direction as to where to start first.Get a Free Data Center Energy Audit1) Walk-Through Energy AuditWalk-through energy audits are the least expensive and time-consuming. However, they can quickly identify the low hanging fruit for improving data center efficiency. This is a good starting point and includes general readings and measurements for the following:PowerLighting LevelsThermal AnalysisIn most cases, an auditor will walk through the facility. They will also review energy data for the past 1-2 years to determine baseline energy usage, trends, costs, and potential savings. From this point, an auditor conducting a walk-through energy audit may recommend a more comprehensive audit.2) Comprehensive Energy AuditThis is the standard when it comes to data center energy audits and assessments. A comprehensive energy audit involves collecting data on a facility for three or more years. This includes a detailed investigation into the data center electricity and power utilization.A letter of authorization (LOA) will most likely need to be granted to the auditor by the company. This is used to collect detailed records on the following:Electricity RatesElectricity SourcesPower Usage RecordsInventoriesContracts3) Investment Grade Energy AuditIf you want the best and do not want to leave any energy-saving stone unturned, an investment-grade audit is going to be your best bet. With an investment-grade audit, auditors will examine your data centers energy usage and footprint over the past three or more years.Electricity RatesElectricity SourcesPower Usage RecordsContactsEnergy DesignEnergy ModelingCost-Savings AnalysisUnlike the comprehensive audit, an investment-grade audit includes detailed energy models based on designs to illustrate the impacts of energy efficiency projects at the facility.An investment-grade energy audit gives you a clear path to the anticipated ROI for investments in power system upgrades and other efficiency improvements. It is by far the most expensive of the three types of facility energy audits.Get a Free Data Center Energy AuditAssessing Data Center Energy UsageIs theres a difference between audits and assessments? Yes, assessments typically start where the audit left off. And as mentioned earlier, the amount of data collected depends on the type of audit being performed.Its common for data centers to undergo a comprehensive audit that examines three years or more of existing energy usage data. An energy efficiency model may start to form from the data collection alone. However, an auditor must visit the site to document energy-efficient actions that may need to be taken. This includes assessing areas such as:Electrical Power ChainHVAC SystemsAir Management SystemsOn-Site Energy GenerationIndoor Outdoor LightingHardware SoftwareWhats the final product? You will receive an energy audit and assessment report that examines the current cost of running the data center versus the projected cost after energy efficiency actions are implemented. It includes specific steps to lower your energy costs.While its true that data center efficiency implementations can be costly in the beginning, case studies have shown that they can ultimately save millions in data center operational costs over the long run.Energy Credits Renewable CertificatesDeregulated Energy MarketsFor those operating in deregulated energy markets, opportunities exist to lock-in or reduce electricity rates at a low price per kWh. And because electricity rates have a large impact on profitability, data center owners and operators can use energy markets to hedge against future price increases by utility providers.Renewable Energy CertificatesIn addition to purchasing energy credits and maintaining predictable electricity rates, data center owners and operators can also look to renewable energy credits as a way of offsetting their fossil fuel demand and carbon footprint.Renewable energy credits allow companies to purchase and invest in green energy-producing power sources such as solar energy, wind power, hydropower, and more. This is very positive for brand awareness and recognition. It can help with attracting customers and talent.Learn More About Renewable Energy CertificatesConclusion: Data Center Audits Assessments Where Cost Savings Doing the Right Thing Go Hand-in-HandIf youre a data center owner or operator reading this, youre probably focused on growing your business, expanding your facilities, and entering new markets. But youre also thinking about going green, sourcing renewables, and focusing on improving data center power efficiency.In this article, we covered the basics of data center power consumption, energy audits, and assessments. We looked at the three types of audits walk-through audits, conventional audits, and investment-grade energy audits. We also looked at the difference between an audit and an assessment.There is no way to cover all the details in a single article. Want to learn more about data center energy audits and assessment? Contact me to learn more about our free audit and assessment services. Theyre perfect if you currently own and operate data centers or if youre looking to invest in an existing data center facility.