Charlie Frost, a Senior Systems Engineer at Albacore, outlines the history and the future of collaboration using their all-inclusive Albacore Cloud Environment product.
To understand why it’s important to move past the concept of a server at the centre of a business network, it’s worth thinking about where the requirement for a server-based network came from and how they have evolved.
The concept of a network for authentication has been around since the early 1990’s in Windows. The concept here is that a client machine authenticates to a server using a username and password granting access to resources provided by that server. Differing levels of users can only see resources that the administrator of the network permits. Servers can also provide access to applications, so clients can run line of business applications such as freight forwarding, customs clearance or accounts software on a server, as well as storing and editing files and printing to networked printers. Internet access was far from widespread in the 1990’s, so these networks were local only – access to the resources only on them was only possible from within the business premises.
Fast forwarding about 30 years, the development of the Internet and cloud computing means that many but not all of those line of business applications are now delivered from the providers’ own infrastructure and only a stable Internet connection is required to use them. However, the users of those products still require access to files and resources on their business networks and responsive support from their IT provider.
A modern IT system needs to evolve with these changes to cover and secure both bases – the first is the modern line of business application delivered via the cloud, and the second is the authentication and resources that are still usually delivered by an on-premise setup. These on-premise networks are of course now Internet connected, and various mechanisms exist to link remote clients to on-premise networks. These mechanisms add cost, complexity and bring a separate administration and support overhead. On-premise servers also need ever more complex and expensive infrastructure around them; UPS, backups, hardware support, dedicated space and cooling to name just the obvious ones. They also need periodic renewal which usually means a significant capital outlay on new server hardware and a licensing refresh, as well as expertise and some disruption to facilitate the transition from the old servers to the new servers.
With a fleet of user hardware assets that could be physically located anywhere on the planet, business owners need to know which device is in use from where and by who. Regulation and compliance changes such as GDPR and AEO mean procedures need to be in place to ensure that company data is not disclosed in the event of a machine being lost or stolen.
Email is the number 1 business communication tool, and it’s essential that a secure and reliable email system with synchronised access and archiving capabilities is in place in any professional organisation.
Albacore Cloud Environment (ACE) is the solution here. From the point of user login, ACE provides authentication of a user to company resources via cloud-based authentication. Taking things further, that authentication can check the security of the connection the user has and the device they are connecting from and if necessary prevent access to that user based on the configured policy. In the same package, ACE also provides the key tools users need to get work done:
- Hosted email with archiving and legal hold functionality enabled
- Microsoft Office applications
- OneDrive to sync company data repositories
- SharePoint to share files with colleagues and customers and allow real-time multi-user editing of those files
- Teams to provide chat and presence as well as further enhancements to real-time collaboration inside and outside the organisation
Making company information available from anywhere enables excellent productivity and collaboration, but adds significant security challenges too. That’s why ACE has additional enhancements to email filtering through the addition of sophisticated phishing protection and attachment quarantine functions. ACE also has Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) built in by default, meaning that as well as the usual username and password a user also needs to provide a real-time code from an alternate source to authenticate their log in.
Albacore’s bespoke monitoring and alerting tools and our managed anti-malware suite are included to ensure wide ranging and responsive actions are taken should a compromise or infection occur on a user system. Our update management tools ensure supported user devices install the latest Microsoft Operating System and Office security updates.
ACE also draws on the strengths of Albacore’s many significant USP’s – we provide full onboarding of the system, full data transfer and testing, plus a roadmap for the ultimate retirement of your on-premise servers. Our team create and administer users, groups, permissions, resources and maintain policies with ACE that mean company devices and company data remain managed and secure.
Unlimited helpdesk support for the primary device of each user is included, with our maximum 8 business hour onsite response with parts and labour included on desktops, up to the level of a replacement machine of equivalent specification commissioned onsite by our engineers.
ACE compliments our wider portfolio of firewall management, business wireless and network infrastructure support.
Albacore can offer convenient fixed monthly payments and the ACE product is provided with a fixed annual cost per user which includes all functionality and unlimited support and administration.
Albacore already have customers that have freed themselves from on-premise servers using this contemporary method of working. They find it compliments their existing cloud-based line of business applications in a future proofed way.
We’re on stand 3044 at Multimodal 2023 – come and see us to start your journey to the cloud.