Celebrate Tech Innovation with the VSS Baltimore Team!

On Wednesday, April 18th, VSS will be joining the City of Baltimore’s celebration of innovation, light and community during Light City. The VSS Baltimore team is hosting Light up the Sky with Innovation from VSS to showcase client projects featuring cutting-edge technology solutions that solve real-world business problems.


Shining Light on Innovation

Light City, America’s first large-scale festival of art, music and innovation, is where Baltimore comes together and where the world comes to Baltimore. Like the city, VSS is shining light on projects that have inspired our team. During our event at the National Aquarium, you will hear from clients, learn about their project experience and see demonstrations of their innovative technologies.

Local Spotlight

As Light City celebrates local artists and neighborhoods, we will be spotlighting local businesses that have excelled with technology innovations. Project topics include Internet of Things, networking and security.

Celebrate Innovation with the VSS Baltimore Team!

Join us at the National Aquarium on April 18th to celebrate innovation! RSVP now to reserve your seat:

Event Information: VSS presents Light Up the Sky with Innovation from VSS

When: April 18th, 2018

5:00 – 6:00 pm Tour the National Aquarium at Your Leisure

6:00 – 6:30 pm Cocktails and Heavy Hors D’oeuvres

6:30 pm Introduction to Innovation with VSS + SPS

Where: The National Aquarium

501 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202

Please contact us if you have any questions about the event. 

Discover How Modern IT Directors Simplify Infrastructure with Managed Power Hosting

Today’s technology leaders are shifting management of their IBM iSeries, Linux, AIX servers and Virtual Power LPARs to support rapidly changing infrastructures. Because of this shift, power hosting is allowing teams to focus on innovation, reduce infrastructure costs and meet the growing customer demand for ever higher performance.

We asked Carlo MacDonald, our power hosting team lead, what he sees as the strongest motivators for IT Directors leveraging managed power hosting. From Carlo’s “boots on the ground” perspective, IT departments leverage power hosting in ways that make an impact for their environment – not a one size fits all approach.

Here are a few areas where power hosting can make a noticeable difference.

Older doesn’t mean obsolete

Many of today’s most successful businesses embraced IBM Power Systems technology early on, spending a lot of time and effort in creating custom applications and software to run their daily operations. With the rate of change today, many legacy applications are nearing end of life and support, making platform migrations or upgrades expensive and labor-intensive.

Hosting workloads on managed dedicated servers or virtual LPARs can extend the life of mission-critical applications. This creates a bridge letting IT take advantage of additional support resources while future system and application decisions can be thoughtfully made. In the case of an upcoming migration, hosting your environment can help satisfy best practices for testing new equipment independent from production, which gives IT get a better idea of business needs moving forward.

Filling compliance gaps

Employees and customers expect businesses to protect their sensitive information – end of story. Regulatory oversight and industry standards can make compliance an expensive, never-ending task for IT. Hosting partners in our N+1 data centers follow best practices for data protection and integrity and are, by their very nature, compliant across the board.

Shifting production or DR hosting to a larger, managed data center helps infrastructure and security leaders meet SOX, OIXA, HIPAA and other regulatory standards without the burden of monitoring and managing the hardware, software, patches and network.

Save time and deliver peace of mind to your customers, stakeholders and IT team by taking advantage of our data center’s rigorous due diligence processes.

Variable costs make for uncertain budgeting

Technology directors and managers have always been creative when it comes to making the most out of their budgets. With budgets consistently shrinking, leaders are tasked with being innovative in a climate of reduced capital expenditures. This is no small hurdle when you consider the reputation infrastructure hardware and software costs have for being IT budget monsters.

By leveraging hosting technology for production or DR, IT can shift large server and storage costs to their OpEx budgets. As an added benefit, this model removes the financial burden tied to infrastructure technology maintenance and refresh from your shoulders.

The worst time to test your plan is when you need it

Although difficult in its own right, disaster recovery planning may be one of the easier parts of business continuity preparedness. Ensuring that the recovery objectives are achievable and that the DR environment is performing as it should require a solid plan, testing and support.

Shifting your DR environment to a hosting environment can bring opportunities to collaborate with experts, rely on an expanded skill set and ensure business goals are met through high performing Power workloads and system availability.

The right power hosting partner is the one that takes the time to learn your specific business goals, technology needs and becomes an extension of your internal IT team. How do your contenders measure up?

Learn from the Masters: Finding the right blend of cyber security tools

Distilling the right blend of cyber security tools for your company is as much an art as distilling a fine American sipping whiskey from a pile of sugars, grains, and fruit. Everyday technology professionals are being asked to address fast-changing cyber threats and craft comprehensive security monitoring and management strategies into a solidly blended security posture just as a master blender does for spirits.

A Master Blender

A master blender is an individual who decides on the composition of blended spirits. For example, in the Scotch whiskey industry, master blenders choose which single malts and grain whiskeys are combined to make particular blended whiskey. An important objective is often to maintain consistency over time. A typical blend might be composed of 20 different whiskeys whose taste and price will vary over time, and, of course, it is possible that any one of them will go out of production. Consequently, it is sometimes necessary to replace whiskeys that go into the blend. Other responsibilities include checking the maturation of spirits.[1]

Just like the master blender, companies must apply a similar approach to developing a solid cyber security posture and choosing cyber security tools. In the context of managing cyber security organizations, directors and professionals must make decisions based on a combination of tools, security software, data, and industry information. Understanding individual aspects of your cyber security approach are not enough – a blended holistic approach that quantifies risk and considers the interaction of physical, virtual and human factors of security posture is what all masters are working towards. Once a solid cyber security framework is obtained, the work is not done; continually revisiting tools and testing environments, ensures defenses against ever-changing security threats.

On Thursday, November 30 VSS is hosting two master security blenders at the Sagamore Spirit Distillery in Baltimore, Maryland, to discuss cyber security tools. Joe Drissel of CyberESI and Bill Crawford of Information Insights will be sharing the latest insights and techniques for protecting your data and discovering how to manage your security mix to gain the ultimate cyber security advantage for your organization.

Meet the Masters (of Cyber Security Tools)

Joseph Drissel – Founder & CEO, CyberESI

Before founding CyberESI, Joseph was the Acting Section Chief of the Intrusions Section at the Defense Computer Forensics Laboratory (DCFL), the world’s largest accredited computer crime laboratory. In this capacity, Joseph and his team provided intrusion and malware analysis support to DoD entities, Federal Law Enforcement, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF) and the DoD-Defense Collaborative Information Sharing Environment (DCISE). As a certified DoD Forensic Examiner, Joseph engaged in 1,000+ intrusions cases.

In November of 2010, Joseph founded Cyber Engineering Services which provides patented incident response, intrusion/malware analysis, software and systems, training and cyber-related intelligence to its clients and the community at large. CyberESI personnel has backgrounds that include professionals from Federal Law Enforcement, the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense. Employees have expertise in the fields of Network Security, Computer Forensics, Incident Response, Intrusions Analysis and Reverse Engineering Malware; all have extensive knowledge specific to Advanced Persistent Threat-related issues.

Bill Crawford – Principal and CEO, Information Insights, LLC

Recognizing the lack of service providers focusing on data security, Bill, along with a team of experts created Information Insights in March of 2010 with a narrow focus of helping customers understand their data, risk and protection landscape. Since then, Bill has worked with many of the Global 100 companies across multiple industries as they assess, redefine and implement strategies for protecting the “crown jewels” of their respective firms.

Bill works with industry leaders from IBM and various clients to tackle subjects ranging from “discovering your data assets” to “developing risk-based controls”, “managing insider threat” and building the “security data lake” as well as how to approach data warehousing and aggregation for security information. Leading, participating in and facilitating workshops and strategy sessions have given Bill unique insight into many of the challenges faced by today’s enterprises as they wrestle with the challenge of developing a data security strategy and having confidence in cyber security tools. Bill is always happy to share what insights he can since shared experiences often lead to innovation.

Please join us for an evening of peer networking, spirited tech talk, delicious food and private tours of one of Maryland’s best tasting new business ventures. Register now.

VSS presents Refine the Spirit of Cyber Security
Thursday, November 30, 2017  |  6pm – 9pm

Sagamore Spirit Distillery
301 East Cromwell Street
Baltimore, MD  21230

[1] Source: Wikipedia

5 Areas to Explore When Planning for a Cyber Security Incident Happening

The month of October has been identified as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) by the National Cyber Security Alliance. VSS has joined the effort as a NCSAM Champion to promote cyber security awareness from the breakroom to the boardroom and help you with planning for cyber security.

We encourage you to take action in protecting your business, employees and customers from online attacks, data loss and other threats – and to ultimately create a culture of cyber security at work.

We’ve listed five areas to explore planning for cyber security incidents happening and how it could impact your business and life.

1. Identify the “crown jewels”

The first step in protecting a business from cyber threats is to identify the “crown jewels” of your business. Those assets and systems that are critical to your business that would prove difficult to operate if they were lost or compromised and/or could be a high value target for cybercriminals.

Always think broadly about critical assets when planning for cyber security. They could be data such as customer or employee data, systems such as ordering, inventory or scheduling and/or intellectual property.

2. Protect Your Assets

Once you have identified your “crown jewels” and critical assets, build your cyber protections around these first as you create a trajectory forward to protect your entire business.

Ultimately, your goal is to build a culture of cybersecurity that includes employees knowing how to protect themselves and the business and understanding the cyber risks as your business grows or adds new technologies or functions.

3. Detect Incidents

Detection is all about knowing when something has gone wrong. We have fire alarms in our businesses and homes that alert us to problems. In cybersecurity, the faster you know about an incident, the quicker you can mitigate the impact and get back to normal operations.

4. Knowing the Threats

Not all threats in cybersecurity equally impact your business. Some, like broad ransomware attacks are designed to infect any system anywhere that is vulnerable. In other cases, attacks may be motivated by the type of business you are in and the value of what you have.

For example, for those in the retail business, cybercriminals may be looking to steal customer payment data or access a bank account. If you are in manufacturing, maybe stealing your intellectual property or disrupting operations is the goal.

5. Respond

Even when we take all the precautions we can, incidents can still happen. Being prepared to respond in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner will reduce risks to your business and send a positive signal to your customers and employees. Therefore, planning for a response is critical.

The good news is preparing to respond to a cyber incident is not unlike preparing for other events that could impact your business like natural or man-made disasters. Planning for cyber security means building a cyber incident response that can tap your other operational knowledge and experience.

You will need to be ready to:

  • Resolve the problem (e.g., fix your network, restore data)
  • Identify what’s been lost and who has been impacted
  • Continue operations while problems are fixed
  • Communicate with stakeholders (e.g., customers, employees and perhaps the general public)
  • Comply with applicable laws and reporting
  • Report to appropriate agencies

The VSS security team is on hand to answer any questions and be a resource as you begin to explore the state of cyber security at your business.

Join the NCSAM movement this month and arm your business against today’s unrelenting IT security threats.

Source: https://staysafeonline.org/

Overcoming the Pains of Supporting Open Source Software

Most of us know and use open source software (OSS) for its numerous benefits – cost savings, flexibility, freedom, security and accountability. Moreover, OSS has long-term viability, as it’s created and supported by a world-wide community of organizers and developers.

It’s easy to see why Open Source is highly appealing. However, OSS has been said to be “’free’ as in kittens.” The major pains of supporting Open Source Software is that it requires constant upkeep: maintenance, configuration and on-going support.

With the shift to OSS, several new challenges have presented themselves to our clients with regards to supporting open source software. Our maintenance team has categorized pain points into three areas and outlined methods to overcome open source software support concerns.

Managing multiple OSS providers.

This is a common pain point if you use and self-manage several different types of open source software. We like to think of this as the “DIY downside” of OSS. Having to regularly check compliance, version updates, community news and maintenance suggestions for multiple software packages can quickly become complex and overwhelming.

How do you overcome this?

Partner with a support service provider that has a similar OSS support platform as your hardware stack. Look for service features such as the ability to:

  • Assist with problem and resolution determination for a wide range of OSS
  • Provide Level 1 and 2 support, 7×24
  • Feature one phone number to call for all OSS types
  • Have one contract for all OSS needs

Hiring specific OSS consultants.

For most companies, hiring a specific consultant to support each OSS is simply too expensive.

How do you overcome this?

Don’t take on additional staff to support each OSS. You can benefit from an OSS support partner’s expertise in a wide range of packages, specific project knowledge and usually, save money in the process. Additionally, a proficient IT asset management partner should be able to provide consultative support for the environment around the OSS package.

Relying on communities and forums for supporting Open Source Software.

Community support is one of the awesome benefits of OSS. However, mining through support communities for an answer while a system outage is going on is not fun. Even when you aren’t in crunch-mode, spending valuable time looking through support communities is time consuming and can lead down rabbit holes.

How do you overcome this?

Treat your open source software like you treat the rest of your enterprise technology environment by having around the clock support in place. By partnering with a world-class support team, you should have guaranteed service level agreements that help create an “always on” environment. This translates into reduced downtime and helps save money.

VSS and IBM have adapted an award winning Multi-Vendor Portfolio Management and Maintenance Service Model to now provide end-to-end enterprise class support for your ecosystem – including Open Source Software.

Take advantage of World Class support with one, single source provider, guaranteed service level agreements and competitive pricing.

Contact our maintenance services team to talk about open source software.