Hungry For Secure Wireless – and Pizza!

November 8, 2012

by Mike Zozaya, Nexus Practice Manager, Security/Mobility/Infrastructure

My favorite restaurant makes great pizza, but I think they could use injection of wireless technology.  The entire process just isn’t very efficient, and that inefficiency often results in frustration for both customers and staff – and reduced profits for the owners.  Here’s what happened last Friday night:

  • Our server showed up at the table and took our order by writing it on a piece of paper.
  • The server took the piece of paper and waited in line with other servers to enter the order into the proprietary point of sale system.
  • The server must have made an entry error because instead of putting onions on our pizza, the kitchen staff added olives.
  • The server picked up our order and brought it to the table, but as noted above, the pizza didn’t have the correct topping.
  • So, our pizza went back to the kitchen (and became a loss), and a new one was prepared.
  • Meanwhile, we sat at the table waiting.
  • When the new pizza arrived, we were HUNGRY, and it vanished in a flash.   It was time for our check.
  • The server again waited in line at the point of sale machine to print out our check, then brought it to the table and left to take care of other customers.
  • I placed my credit card on the tray with the bill and waited for the server to return.
  • The server returned and picked up the check, then waited in line at the point of sale terminal AGAIN to process my credit card.
  • Finally, the server returned to our table with my credit card and my receipt.

Wouldn’t it have been easier if:

  • The server used a smartphone or tablet to enter orders wirelessly.
  • A secure, cloud-based application automatically sent the order to the kitchen and the restaurant manager and, at the same time, removed the ingredients from inventory.
  • The server picked up the order (which was correct because the server also owns a smartphone or tablet and is very comfortable using mobile apps) and delivered it to the table before customers were so hungry that they were ready to consume almost anything.
  • When it was time for the check, the customer had the option of viewing the check on the server’s device or requesting a print out of the check from a portable printer.
  • The server processed credit and debit cards at the table using a card reader attached to the smartphone or tablet.
  • Receipts could be sent to a customer email address or again printed at a local portable printer.

Using a secure wireless solution, my favorite restaurant would be able to:

  • Assign more tables per server
  • Serve more customers at peak times
  • Reduce waste due to errors
  • Track inventory in real time
  • Make their customers happier

Bottom line, my restaurant would make more money and I’d probably go there more often because I knew that I’d get great food, fast.

Because I can’t live without the good pizza my restaurant serves, there’s a good chance that I’ll be back at my favorite spot in the very near future.  But I’ll be dreaming about a place where the pizza is great and secure wireless technologies make the service fast, the orders accurate and the restaurant so profitable that they become an international chain.


The net impact of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

August 7, 2012

– by Tom Lyon, VP of Managed Services and Shane Roberts, Director of Managed Services

the multitude of consumer devices facing ITA member of our staff at Nexus was surprised to discover that his family of four had consumed 8.26GB of data in just one month.  After interviewing family members, it was pretty clear that the culprits were streaming and downloaded video along with Pandora radio.  But his experience got me thinking about the number one issue our customers talk about when we ask them to name the biggest network management problems they face.  Almost without fail, it’s how to deal with all of the consumer smartphones and tablets that are proliferating on their networks. 

Our customers, and our own experience here at Nexus, tell us that allowing users to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), significantly impacts the network infrastructure in three main areas:

  1. Bandwidth – If four consumers can use 8.26GB of data in one month, how much more will an executive, sales person or field technician generate that uses TelePresence to stay in touch, views high-quality 1080p video, and downloads multimedia documents like PowerPoint presentations, brochures, and comprehensive reports?  Our experience, and that of many of our customers, is that users consume bandwidth almost as fast as it is installed.  We’ve found that providing the bandwidth users need at a cost the company can afford requires an approach that includes policy (limiting devices or types of traffic), technology (bigger pipes, improved infrastructure), and operational improvements (better tools, more efficient processes).
  2. Security – It’s just a little scary to realize that the Vice President’s “business” tablet is also a toy for his/her nine-year-old son or daughter.  And, that both of them are probably making the four biggest smartphone/tablet security mistakes:

    * Downloading apps from unverified sources
    * Using an unlocked device
    * Using a device without a password or using a password that’s simple to break
    * Failing to keep the device’s OS updatedIT professionals know that it’s difficult to change user behavior.

    Therefore, it’s protecting the network that’s key.  We’ve found that single sign-on, context-based access rights, and SSL VPN’s – along with policy – can help insure that a nine-year-old’s mistake doesn’t result in a network intrusion.

  3. Storage – To users, storage is like bandwidth – the more there is, the more they’ll consume. However, all of that video, all of those documents have to be stored somewhere.  And for companies that must comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and other state and Federal laws, simply deleting all of the video isn’t an option.  We’ve helped our customers – and ourselves – to manage the storage storm by implementing robust storage area networking solutions and using virtualization to help cap costs. 

Mobile devices aren’t going away.  And, since companies can’t just stay on an unlimited data plan with their wireless vendor to cap mobile data costs (like our colleague), it’s important to prepare for their impact on network bandwidth, security, and storage.  

Information on Nexus solutions that can help solve BYOD issues is available at:
Identity Services
Network Security
Meet the Demands of End Users
Keeping Up with Bandwidth Demands
The Role of the Network in Data Center Virtualization
Overpaying for Your Communications Infrastructure
Managed Services Provides a Predictable Cost Model


EMR Readiness

June 26, 2012

Is your IT environment ready for an EMR implementation?

Does your organization have a plan for identifying the gaps in your IT infrastructure?

Can your data network provide secure mobile access?  

Is your organization in full compliance with regulatory mandates like HIPAA?

Alarmingly, most healthcare organizations do not have a technical infrastructure that is prepared to adequately handle the needs of an EMR system. The typical state of infrastructure includes spotty wireless coverage, poorly maintained servers, inadequate bandwidth, insufficient space and environmental controls in the data center,  insufficient security  and  redundancy, and poor operational management.

Written by industry veteran and Nexus Business Transformation Specialist Kathleen Gaffney, the EMR Intrastructure Readiness white paper is full of important technology and operational considerations. From Device Messaging to Wireless Coverage to Business Continuity Plans, there’s more to a successful EMR implementation than the patient records themselves. These 13 concrete recommendations will help ensure your implementation goes smoothly.

Download the whitepaper now!


3 Statistics to Make You Think – Round 1

October 25, 2011

Earlier this year, we compiled a short video to highlight how pervasive technology has become. This clip is the first in a series of excerpts from that video. Each one contains some fairly startling statistics, and all of them will make you think. Is your network ready? 


Security and Availability are Job #1

August 9, 2011

Global Cash Access is a leading provider of cash access, cash handling & information services. Surprisingly, over 65% of the money wagered in casinos doesn’t walk in the door, but is accessed from within the casino itself. In 2010, GCA processed 90 million financial transactions and delivered over $18 billion in cash to casino floors. That’s $52 million per day, $2.1 million per hour, or $35,000 per MINUTE. For a company with that much cash on the line, uptime isn’t just a necessity, it’s mission-critical. And since millions of customers have entrusted their personal and financial data to the company, security is no less vital.

So when it came time to upgrade their data center, GCA sought out partners who were uniquely positioned to help them in their mission: To ensure that cash can be delivered to casino patrons in a fast, reliable and secure manner. With help from Nexus, GCA migrated its data center to Switch Communications’ SuperNAP – one of the greenest, most powerful data centers in the world. Its network and data center infrastructure now includes:

If you’re ever in Las Vegas, the 407,000 sq ft Switch SuperNAP is well worth a tour. They are the world’s most powerful and greenest data center, and have recently announced a planned  expansion to 2.2 million square feet, making it the largest commercially available and independent technology ecosystem in the world. Security is unparalleled, with armed guards and elaborate protocols required just for the tour. So while the idea of an incident ever striking the facility seems highly unlikely, GCA’s entire data center setup is replicated at their corporate offices for backup and redundancy.

In addition to 100% availability, security and reliability, GCA has realized the following benefits from their data center upgrade:

  • Gained unprecedented scalability and ease of management, freeing engineers for critical projects and reducing operational costs.
  • Saved $800,000 in capital costs and is expected to reduce database licensing costs up to 40%.
  • Reduced carbon footprint by several hundred thousand tons per year.

GCA plans to complete its IT implementation in 2011 and begin migrating its credit-card processing operations in-house in late 2011 or early 2012.


Could Your Network Security Fend Off Attack?

May 10, 2011

On April 26th, Sony disclosed an “external intrusion” on its systems between April 17 and 19 that affected its PlayStation Network and compromised credit card data, email addresses and other personal information from 77 million user accounts. On May 2nd, Sony said personal information — but not financial details — from an additional 24.6 million online gaming accounts also may have been stolen. Now it appears that Sony may have thwarted a third attack this past weekend.

The Washington Post writes that CNET posted advance warning of a third attack planned by the same hacker group. By monitoring an Internet Relay Chat channel the group uses, an informant was able to tip CNET to the possibility, and Sony used this information to ward off the planned 3rd attack.

The failure of Sony’s server security has ignited investigations by the FBI, the Department of Justice, Congress, and the New York State Attorney General, a well as data security and privacy authorities in the U.K., Canada, and Taiwan. In this Huffington Post article, a Sony executive is quoted as saying the data breach that hit Sony’s PlayStation Network resulted from a “very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber-attack designed to steal personal and credit card information for illegal purposes.”

Sony originally expected some of its services to be restored last week but has now pushed back that deadline to an unspecified date. Bloomberg reported that although Sony missed its initial deadline to restore some services, it still plans to have the full network restored by May 31.

With so much mainstream news coverage in print, online, and on the TV, network security has leapt to the top of most IT Directors’ minds. With an obligation to protect customers’ proprietary data coupled with the need to protect the company’s own data and intellectual property, security has never been more important. Add the need to allow mobile and remote access for customers, business partners and employees, and the scope of the issue increases exponentially. Bottom line – NOW is the time to evaluate and tighten your organization’s data protection policies.


Work is What You Do, Not Where You Are

April 20, 2011

Borderless OfficeI was talking to the publisher at a major media outlet a few days ago about ideas related to “The Modern Office.” Ironically, the first thing that came to mind for me was that the “the modern office” doesn’t necessarily include an actual office anymore. With borderless networks and secure wireless access, more employees than ever are working remotely.

In “Wanted: Business Mobility Strategies” (Channel Partners, Apr 2011) there’s an interesting discussion about the growing need for IT to support devices of all types – personal or company-issued. But a complete strategy needs to take into account not just hardware and anytime, anywhere access, but also the business rules and policies to support genuine mobility.

Security should be a primary consideration factor in designing a wireless strategy. What devices are allowed to connect to the network? Should roaming or hotspot access be allowed? To what degree are device features allowed and which, if any, must be disabled? Obviously, data security plays a key role in establishing these procedures and policies.

According to the Cisco Connected Technology World Report, three out of five workers around the world believe that they do not need to be in the office anymore to be productive. In fact, their desire to be mobile and flexible in accessing corporate information is so strong that the same percentage of workers would choose jobs that were lower-paying but had leniency in accessing information outside of the office over higher salaried jobs that lacked flexibility.

The same Cisco study showed that two-thirds of employees surveyed (66 percent) expect IT to allow them to use any device – personal or company-issued – to access corporate networks, applications, and information anywhere, at any time. For employees who can access corporate networks, applications, and information outside of the office, nearly half of the respondents (45 percent) admitted working between two to three extra hours a day, and a quarter were putting in four hours or more.

With potential productivity increases in that range, it’s clear that companies need to consider and develop a mobility strategy sooner than later.


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