Interlink Cloud Blog

Matt Scherocman brings more than 15 years of experience in the information technology industry to Interlink Cloud Advisors. His experience includes both the system integrator and manufacturer sides of the business. During his time at the Microsoft Corporation he was responsible for all the the Large Account Reseller (LAR) relationships in the four state Heartland Area of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Prior to Microsoft, Scherocman led a Cincinnati based IT consulting company to grow 5000% and become a Microsoft Worldwide Partner of the Year. He is actively involved in the strategic vision and operation decisions of the company including finance, selling strategy and marketing. Matt holds a Bachelor of Science in Business degree from Miami University and is a Certified Expert in Microsoft licensing including speaking engagements at both Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference and Channel Partner Summit. He is a frequent contributor to leading industry publications.

Matt Scherocman

Six Reasons Microsoft Azure SQL Database Provides the Best Data Security Around

Six Reasons Microsoft Azure SQL Database Provides the Best Data Security Around

Companies leveraging the cloud for business have a multitude of options. They also have a lot of security concerns when transitioning their data to the cloud. Microsoft has built on the SQL Server foundation, bringing a new level of security to help ease the mind of these cloud-driven companies with six enhancements. All of which are crucial reasons to consider Microsoft Azure SQL Database as your company’s cloud platform of choice:

  1. Always Encrypted: Exactly how it sounds, Always Encrypted means your data remains encrypted…all the time to help you protect sensitive data. Data is encrypted in transit, in memory, on a disk, and during query processing.

  2. Transparent Data Encryption: For those of us constantly keeping up on compliance regulations and requirements, this encrypts databases with associated backups as well as transaction log files without needing changes to your applications. The audit trail is clear in order to stay in compliance while keeping data safe from any breach.

  3. Row-Level Security: This feature can limit access to individual rows of data based on a user's identity, role, or query execution context to ensure only the right people can view that data. This also simplifies the application code so that data isn’t accidently shared in any situation.



  4. Azure Active Directory (AD) Authentication: Different from SQL Authentication, Azure AD
    Authentication simplifies password management by allowing you to access a number of Azure services using the same identity. This does not compromise the level of security. It reduces the amount of IT time spends on retrieving lost passwords and login details while maintaining access control every step of the way.

  5. Dynamic Data Masking: Another, more sophisticated, form of encryption allows users to define masking patterns on actual database columns. For example, users can set a masking rule that masks all but the last four digits of any social security number in the result set of any query to ensure that sensitive data is truly safe.

  6. SQL Database Threat Detection: This feature alerts set users of any suspicious database activities automatically and complements Azure SQL Database Auditing, which records database events and writes audited events to an audit log in the Azure Storage account. 

    Microsoft Azure SQL Database Security

Both features are great examples of how users can monitor and quickly respond to risk. Advanced Threat Analytics is yet another approach to helping users stay ahead of sophisticated malware attacks.

Another (bonus) reason to consider Azure SQL Database that’s best shared through this diagram, courtesy of Microsoft Azure, is that SQL Server’s track record speaks for itself. When you’re in the cloud, you can’t be vulnerable and SQL Server lives up to that motto…six years running!

microsoft azure sql database unparalleded security

Data security in the cloud isn’t a set it and forget it process. It is a constant work in progress because the security risks keep changing and technology keeps advancing. Choosing Microsoft as your partner in mitigating those risks is a smart and educated decision in keeping your data safe.

Learn more about these security enhancements by downloading the Security and Azure SQL Database whitepaper and contact us at Interlink for more information.

SQL Modernization Assessment Ad

 

Matt Scherocman

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

As business changes and technology evolves, the majority of organizations depend on IT systems to store their data and run critical workflows. Unfortunately, these systems can be a prime target for cyber-attacks as sophisticated hackers put the enterprise in a vulnerable position. Just take note of these especially stunning stats:

  • 76% of attacks stem from compromised user credentials
  • The average cost of a data breach to a company is $3.5 million and total cost of cybercrime on a global scale is as high as $500 billion
  • Because of dangerous IT security blind spots (shown in the image below), it could take over 200 days to detect an attack

    IT blind spots Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

Stats courtesy of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics Datasheet.

The reality is, businesses need to pay attention and adapt to this changing nature of data security threats.

Now available in the Enterprise Mobility Suite, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) helps to protect your company from attacks by leveraging machine learning. It uses behavioral analytics to uncover suspicious behavior, internally or from external attacks. It also detects known security issues and risks , the goal is to stay  one (or two, or three) steps ahead of the attackers.

Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

When you think of security software, your mind might immediately turn to configuring system rules and alerting. All of which take time and commitment from your team. With ATA, you don’t need to create rules, baselines, or thresholds. It’s streamlined from setup and works immediately. Once a threat is detected, it’s also easy to view a timeline of when the attack hit. It can help pinpoint where the breach took place. All of this insight can better prepare you for future attacks.

The thought of being hacked and not even knowing it is scary enough, but ATA also helps identify internal threats like why a user would be accessing files in accounting if they’re in the marketing department? Combined with online security reports, ATA can show anomalies for logins.  It will help detect when user credentials have been compromised by reporting geographically distant logins that occur at the time time – like a single user being logged in from Ohio and from Romania at the same time.  

The high-level benefits of using ATA at your business are obvious. Peace of mind goes a long way, and you also want it to help you adapt as cyber-attacks grow in frequency and sophistication. The features of ATA are even more appealing when you see exactly how it works for your business. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Timeline: We’ve already mentioned that timeline, but it’s worth noting again. In addition to listing the activities as they occur, ATA provides recommendations on how to handle that alert.
  • Organizational Security Graph: This maps out entity interactions which represents the context and activities of the users, devices, and resources. This will be a big driver in managing security for each of your users.
  • Email Alerts: There’s no need for one person to be continuously monitoring for cyber-attacks. With ATA, you can have emails sent to users or groups when suspicious activity is detected.
  • Leveraging the Cloud:  Microsoft cloud based correlation engine helps more quickly identify new attacks and reduce the amount of false positives. 

The cyber-attack threat is real and ATA can help you adapt to the changing cyber-attack world we live in.

Contact Interlink if you any questions.

 

Matt Scherocman

SQL Server in the Public Cloud: SQL Database vs. SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server in the Public Cloud: SQL Database vs. SQL Server on Azure VMs

When it comes to hosting SQL Server in the public cloud, there are two major options. 

  1. SQL Database
  2. SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines (VMs)

Customers can choose just one or both, as each is designed for different SQL workloads and fit into Microsoft’s platform a different way.

In order to choose the right route for your application workload, you’ll want to match your business requirements with the benefits and capabilities of these two options. But first, know that if you choose a cloud path, you don’t have to be all in the cloud. Same goes for an on-premises direction. A hybrid cloud option, which means having part of your data centers in the cloud while keeping a select workloads on-premises, is what most businesses choose and what Microsoft’s cloud platform is built for.

The diagram below, courtesy of Microsoft Azure, shows the relation of cloud options to the level of administration you have over the infrastructure and the degree of cost efficiency:

SQL Server in the Public Cloud

The public cloud options (represented in blue) are outlined below, starting with…

Microsoft Azure SQL Database

SQL Database is hosted, and maintained by Microsoft. This Azure cloud platform is categorized as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) and offers a few desirable features to help companies scale efficiently. First of which is cost flexibility. Users pay as they go, scaling up or down for more power and little interruption. You can also develop directly on the service using Azure's built-in features and functionality.

#1 Benefit: Lowered Overall Cost and Administration

In addition to lowering the overall cost of running multiple databases, SQL Database reduces ongoing administration costs because you don’t need a full IT team to manage any virtual machines, operating systems, or database software.

How to Purchase

SQL Database is sold as a service, not with a license. In order to limit your cost exposure, clients will need to manage and monitor what is in use along with what can be scaled back to reduce subscription fees.

Administration

With SQL Database, you can continue to administer your database, but Microsoft takes care of the underlying hardware, can replicate data to provide high availability, configures and upgrades the database software, manages load balancing, and does transparent failover if there is a server failure. Ultimately, taking away the time-consuming administration duties.

SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server on Azure VMs allows you to run SQL Server inside a virtual machine in the cloud. This falls under the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) category and is meant to extend on premise SQL Server applications to the cloud.

#1 Benefit: Customizability

If you already have a full-time IT staff and need administrative rights, yet desire a fully customizable setup, SQL Server on Azure VMs is optimized exactly for your scenario.

How to Purchase

Traditional SQL Server licensing is available for SQL Server on Azure VMs. Customers with current software assurance have the ability to run use that license to cover their instances of SQL within Azure. If there is a workload running full time, it is typically less expensive to purchase the SQL than to subscribe to it in scenario 1. 

Administration

SQL Server on Azure VMs makes it possible to keep control over database location down to the location of the disk. You can upgrade on your own schedule.

When deciding what public cloud option is right for you, assess your situation first and determine which workloads fit which cloud scenarios best.  Keep in mind that you may want to reuse licensing that may already be used to run the same workload on premises. 

Whatever your situation, Interlink can help you determine the best fit and then take the right next steps from there. Contact Interlink.

SQL Modernization Assessment Ad

Matt Scherocman

Top 5 Benefits of Microsoft Azure SQL Database

Top 5 Benefits of Microsoft Azure SQL Database

The question of whether or not to put your business data in the cloud is getting easier and easier these days and a lot of that is thanks to Microsoft’s investment in Microsoft Azure. Their strategy to create an infrastructure, like Microsoft Azure SQL Database, that can manage big data (as big as petabyte-scale) and everything on down from that is working and it’s working well.

The advancements made in SQL Database are making it more and more possible businesses of all sizes to save money and scale up or down efficiently. Below are the top five benefits that companies are realizing with SQL Database as their database service:

1) Scalability and Beyond

First of all, flexible service plans for SQL Database meet the needs of both big and small business users. SQL is no longer way out of reach for smaller operations because the pricing structure allows users to pay as little as $4.99 per database per month with a maximum storage set at 150 GB per database. That’s a lot of space for very little cost.

Microsoft Azure SQL Database

2) High Speed and Minimal Down Time

High availability architectures mean high speed connectivity and data retrieval as well as low down time at your organization. There’s nothing worse than stopping business because your technology can’t keep up, but that is no longer a problem with SQL Database.

Secondly, companies can add application instances as needed through sharding, for example. Sharding is a type of database partitioning that separates very large databases into smaller, faster, more easily managed parts called data shards. Not only can you spin nodes up and down on demand, you can leverage a federation infrastructure to scale more easily without affecting other areas of the server. SQL Azure Federation Data Migration Wizardcan even further automate this process, which impacts your organization and the employees much less.

Lastly, there are multiple levels of implementation that you can benefit from. If you just need a website and a database, you can hitch a SQL Azure instance to an Azure website and you’re done! If you need a full-blownvirtual machine(VM) now or even down the road, you can get that as well. You can even use a locally deployed instance of SQL Server in the VM instead of SQL Azure. These implementation options help make your company more adaptable to the inevitable changes it undergoes on a regular basis. With SQL Azure, you’re not stuck. You’re on a foundation that encourages growth while working with it!

3) Improved Usability

SQL developers are familiar with all things SQL and SQL Database can be updated with SQLCMD or the SQL Server Management Studio. Better yet, there’s no coding required! Using standard SQL, it’s much easier to manage database systems without having to write or update a huge amount of code.

4) Time Is On Your Side

With no administrative duties on your physical location, employees can take time for strategic work to advance and grow all-around business success. When your database is hosted in the cloud, you don’t have to deal with setting up SQL Server, apportioning databases, and dealing with physical machine maintenance and upkeep. All of this results in better alignment of your organization and ultimately more time on your side.

5) Easy-to-Use Migration Tools

Ramp up time with SQL Database is now easier than ever and free! SQL Data Sync allows you to either sync your SQL Server-stored data or migrate the data without having to worry about the costs to migrate by syncing gigabyte-sized tables.

Take into account all that SQL Azure has to offer and contact us at Interlink if you have any questions. 

SQL Modernization Assessment Ad

Matt Scherocman

Three Ways Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) Has Changed Everything

Three Ways Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) Has Changed Everything

Looking at how technology has evolved, the cloud has certainly changed everything in terms of how we do business and what’s expected of us as a company. The cloud has created a ton of benefits and possibilitieslike the promise for users to be able to work anywhere on any device. That flexibility also created several challenges. Those challenges include security, device management, and data protection.

 
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Welcome to the Interlink Cloud Blog

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations or warranties regarding the information from our partners or other external sources.

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