IMS SecureIT: What is the Cloud?
Last week, the team at IMS conducted our first webinar. Much like everything else we do, we streamlined it. How do you streamline a webinar and make it efficient? Research and planning! Over the course of six weeks, many of us sat in on just about every webinar we could, trying to make sense of the transition to working remotely during a pandemic, while continuing to propel business forward. We found that 30 minutes, or less, was the right amount of time to get a message across. We also found that to create a positive webinar environment, it was best to eliminate distractions, mute all attendees, disable video features, and offer a personalized Q & A post-webinar. We had a successful first webinar with 25 minutes of direct and to-the-point information about our SecureIT platform, ironically, a system designed to create the ideal remote work environment.
Of course, you can watch the recording of the webinar and we encourage you to do so, but in this article we will go over what was discussed in the webinar, the IMS SecureIT private cloud platform, why it is the best IT option for small- to medium-sized businesses, and add additional resources you may find useful. There are often misconceptions about what the “cloud” actually is. We will break down what we mean by private cloud.
IMS has been in business since 2008. We began as a lifecycle document management company and very quickly decided to incorporate technology. Shortly after opening, we partnered with Upland to bring our customers FileBound, or what we like to call a digital filing cabinet, to organize all files and documents into an electronic and easily searchable format. Over the years, we have evolved and grown into three divisions: IMS SecureIT, IMS Technology Group, and Paper Free Office Solutions. We have continued to stay on the cutting edge of technology by following trends and listening to the needs of our customers. In 2019, we partnered with Avatara, a company based in St. Louis, Missouri, to bring you CompleteCloud, a cost-efficient way to revamp your entire IT department.
The webinar we conducted last week focused primarily on the IMS SecureIT division and how we view CompleteCloud on our digital transformation scale. There is a lot of buzz around digital transformation and what it means. IMS has tailored our version of digital transformation to what we have seen in our experience over the last 12 years. We view digital transformation in 10 stages. While the stages don’t necessarily have to go in order, and you can have one without the other, we see CompleteCloud as a key component because it offers users full mobility, high security, and complete IT infrastructure.
IMS Digital Transformation Stages
As we mentioned, the purpose of our webinar was to speak about IMS Secure IT and the CompleteCloud model. In our business, we have an inside view of many different industries, and businesses of different sizes and budgets. There are common concerns among CEOs, CFOs and CIOs that, from a technological standpoint, CompleteCloud solves:
- Are we secure with not only our data, but the data of our clients?
- Are we maximizing the productivity of our employees?
- Are we doing everything we can so that we are a streamlined business?
- The ability to forecast IT expenses.
The last thing that any business owner, CEO, or president wants to hear is, “We just had two servers go down. Do we happen to have another twenty to fifty thousand dollars laying around?” or, “We have to replace ten desktops that we didn’t expect to have to replace. It’s not in this year’s budget.” A lot of those ups and downs of hard IT costs are going to be eliminated with CompleteCloud. The IMS SecureIT platform really provides peace of mind.
The main business drivers or pain points we typically see in companies searching for a different approach to their IT department are outgrowing their existing model, a security breach, or a need for compliance. We work with a lot of financial institutions, governmental entities, and healthcare, all of which have regulations that are not going away. They are only going to become more complex. There is also a disaster recovery plan every business needs to consider. Many companies recently had to activate theirs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ask yourself, how prepared was your company to work remotely?
Four Components of CompleteCloud
IMS SecureIT’s CompleteCloud platform can be broken down into four main components: complete IT infrastructure, mobility, security, and support. It probably sounds too good to be true when we tell you that you will never have to buy another server, computer or wi-fi access point again. What if we told you that you would be able to access your desktop from anywhere with an internet connection, and have all your software programs and files be available, literally, from anywhere? What do we mean by all this and how is it possible?
First, we build out all of your private business servers and place the necessary applications and software on them. For example, if you are interested in utilizing a document management software like FileBound, we would put it on a server. You now own that software. It is dedicated to you, but it works as if it is a cloud because this is a remote data center environment. The number of servers CompleteCloud provides is unlimited.
We’ve talked about hardware, which we consider to be desktops, monitors, keyboards, mouse, servers, and wi-fi access points. When you buy a new computer, either a desktop or a laptop, it is not unlike buying a car. As soon as you buy the car and drive off the lot, the car has already depreciated in value. The same thing is going to happen when you keep buying computers. You are going to keep purchasing, over and over, every couple of years. CompleteCloud will give your company a complete refresh. IMS SecureIT provides employees the hardware they need to do their job. You can keep using your current computer, but when it wears out, we will replace it at no additional cost to you.
We place something called a thin client, or a small box, on the back of your monitor. This taps in directly to your private servers in our secure data center, or what you hear referred to as “the cloud”. Every user is provided dual monitors, a keyboard, a mouse and soundbar. The thin client is basically a direct feed to your private data center. Your terminal becomes a “dumb terminal” as none of the processing in this environment takes place locally but rather through a Virtual Desktop Interface or VDI.
You may be wondering what the data center and your private cloud environment looks like. This is actually a snapshot of the data center that is in St. Louis. [image] There are multiple data centers with a redundant back up. It is a SSAE 18 data center, just about as secure of a data center as you can get. You see, in the top of this picture, cooling socks. This many servers generate a lot of heat, so the hot air is constantly being pushed out and cool air being pumped in. As far as the physical security, there is badge access and video surveillance. Your information inside the servers is safe, secure, and protected. Regarding power, there are dual feeds, dual electric companies that feed power into these data centers. The way this environment works is the servers are being constantly charged by a battery. If the power goes out, the batteries are still running. If power is not restored, it skips right to diesel. As far as internet is concerned, there are multiple feeds from different internet service providers. If CenturyLink goes down, there is still AT&T and vice versa. Downtime is completely eliminated.
Working remotely was recently pushed to the forefront due to the pandemic. The ability to be able to access files and software and having a fully functioning business environment from your home became necessary. CompleteCloud allows for this without a clunky type of VPN connection or a terminal server. In our SecureIT model, we use a virtual desktop. You will be able to access your exact desktop from anywhere on any device, as the information is housed inside the data center. In the IMS SecureIT model, we simplify the mobility. Basically, wherever you are, you are connected to your virtual desktop. There is a small application we will put on your device called Avatara Connect. It is just a pop-up with username and password. You connect immediately and you will be logged in to your computer desktop. CompleteCloud is device agnostic. It does not matter if it is a surface tablet, an iPad, an iPhone, or an android phone. For example, you could be in your office working on a word document, walk out to your car and get on your iPhone, sign into Avatara Connect and pick up exactly where you left off. This system provides live, real time mobility.
Another component of IMS SecureIT’s CompleteCloud platform is managed security. It is similar to envisioning your company as a castle. You build the castle. We build up the high walls with one point of entry, and then we build a moat around the castle and add layers, protecting it from anything that is coming in. Cisco umbrella looks for known threats like email phishing and spam campaigns. Alert Logic looks for patterns of 0s and 1s and any irregularities. We also include multi-factor authentication. Then, finally, there is KnowBe4 training software. We will train your employees for cyber security threats by instigating simulated phishing campaigns. We will teach your employees what to click on and what not to click on.
Avatara has a St. Louis-based, three-tier support team available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Tier 1 helps with browser issues, email, logins for applications, or the inability to print something. When we say login issues, we do not mean just into the IMS Secure platform. You could have trouble logging into an application like QuickBooks. This team will get on the phone with that help desk, to try to solve your employees’ problems. There are some things that need to be escalated to Tier 2. In the bottom left hand corner of your computer screen is a virtual Chief Information Officer that is going to help you increase workflow. The orders department works with new users. This department will get them signed up, create a password and login. Finally, we have field techs for onsite support. That is where our team at IMS works together with the support desk and the support team out of St. Louis. While we love to say everything can be done remotely, there are certain things for which you need boots on the ground. We will be there for the migration from your old computers and servers to the new platform.
The way CompleteCloud is built out, it is delivered in a private cloud, per-employee, per-month subscription pricing. If you have 100 employees, you will be billed for 100 people. The next month, you hire some people and have 105 employees. Then, you get billed for 105 users. You go back to 90, you get billed for 90. Your IT costs will become predictable. You will always know what your IT budgetary spend is going to be. You will eliminate the need for capital expenditures. IMS SecureIT takes your IT department to a very simplified operational expense.
I hope you’ve gotten some useful knowledge and that we have piqued your interest in the IMS SecureIT CompleteCloud platform. Please reach out to anyone on our team if you have any questions, or for a more in-depth look at CompleteCloud.