Keeping Your Cool When Severe Weather Hits

Extreme weather events have caused massive destruction across North America in recent months. In early 2018, the eastern part of the U.S. experienced a “bomb cyclone” consisting of severe cold temperatures, massive amounts of snow and lots of misery. Last summer and early fall, the Gulf Coast and Caribbean were hard hit by hurricanes during one of the most severe tropical storm seasons in years. Parts of Puerto Rico still are struggling to even get the power back on and other services.

Weather wreaks havoc not only on daily life, but disrupts businesses as well. Lack of power, paralyzed transportation and infrastructure damage have a definite impact on “business as usual.” Over the past several years, the Ponemon Institute (https://www.ponemon.org/), which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy, has launched three studies since 2010 on the cost of data center downtime. In its latest study (2016), the research shows that the average cost of a data center outage was $740,000, an increase of 38% since the first study in 2010.

5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore - Read the Free EbookThe cost of one outage can be measured in many ways—loss of revenue and productivity, damage to an organization’s reputation in the market, customer churn and loss of future opportunities. Depending on the timing and duration of an outage, some industries may be more adversely affected than others. Think about a resort hotel that is unable to book rooms online during the height of the tourist season. Potential customers quickly lose patience and head to the competition or give up entirely. Or consider a transportation organization—outages cause inconvenience for passengers and loss of revenue for carriers, but might be a safety concern as well.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Two elements of business planning, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR), are especially critical during a disaster or outage. Continued business operations depend on an organization’s ability to replicate its systems and data quickly. The ability to plan ahead and adapt during a crisis to restore business operations — without long-term or permanent negative effects — are crucial to an organization’s success. Business continuity goes beyond staying up and running during a disaster. It also means keeping all parts of the business running effectively and efficiently, not just the technology systems.

It’s important to keep a BCDR plan updated as IT changes occur, such as when new applications are added, new technologies become available, or when moving applications to the cloud, for example. By keeping the BCDR plan aligned with the business plans, the IT team won’t be caught off guard when an outage occurs.

Fortunately, technology provides solutions that help mitigate the effects of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and keep businesses online.

Keeping Data Center Operations Humming

For years it’s been a common practice for companies to maintain backup copies of data at an off-site location, usually within a short driving distance of the primary data center. While this practice works for many outage situations, a natural disaster such as a snowstorm, earthquake or mud slide could have a widespread geographic impact that affects not only the location of the main data center, but the backup location as well.

Deploying a cloud solution mitigates that disaster scenario. Cloud-based services support an organization’s ability to plan for disaster recovery and benefit ongoing business continuity. Cloud solutions come in three major deployments—public, private and hybrid. All have pros and cons, depending on the organization’s needs. For instance, private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing a more personalized and secure solution.

IaaS solutions offer advantages over a public cloud, including seamless technology upgrades and more control. Advanced compute, storage and network technology can combine in a private cloud offering such as IaaS, but no solution is “one-size-fits-all.” It’s important to work with a service provider who can create a solution that fits the organization. IaaS lends itself to customization that caters to the unique needs of an organization.

The advantages of a private cloud are numerous:

  • Lower costs than maintaining a private data center
  • Maintain standards of regulatory compliance
  • Access to the latest technologies making it easier to stay current
  • More control than a public cloud, including a more secure solution
  • Standard billing so there are no “surprises”
  • Less burden on internal IT teams and staff

During a natural disaster, IaaS can be the ideal solution for BCDR. By providing an off-premises, hosted environment, the data center continues to operate from a location far removed from the disaster.  Data is secured and transactions with customers and partners continue without interruption. Fault-tolerant servers  offer five 9s of uptime and scalability.  A grid storage system  helps ensure redundancies to protect a company’s mission-critical data. Using grid storage, a company can replicate its data at an off-site location. During an outage or natural disaster, the master site can be recovered by using the data at the remote site, by means of an Optimized Copy, without having to import backup images.

NEC partner Iron Mountain maintains its National Data Center, located 220 feet below ground in Western Pennsylvania and considered one of the most secure, compliant and energy-efficient data center complexes in the world. As a technology infrastructure provider and part of Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, NEC is able to provide additional value-added services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service from this secure location.

Learn how NEC teams up with its partner Iron Mountain to provide an IaaS solution housed in one of the most secure locations in the world, the Iron Mountain National Data Center.

Location of the ‘Office’ No Longer Matters

When a weather event or other natural disaster strikes, the ability to enable employees to work from anywhere becomes critical. Working remotely means staff can perform their jobs as seamlessly as if they were in the office, supporting business operations, serving customers, suppliers and partners, and getting their work done.

Cloud-based applications enable employees to keep things running from remote locations. With unified communications and collaboration tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing, dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside slows transportation to a crawl. Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get to the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions as well.

Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather or natural disaster. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.

Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence or natural disaster.  An SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors and prioritizes network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updates network resources and traffic conditions.

When the blizzard, mud slide, earthquake, wildfire or hurricane strikes your location, the right solutions and technology enable business as usual. Consider private cloud solutions when developing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects data and applications, and keeps your business running.

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As Seen on TV: NEC Provides Powerful Crime Solving Face Recognition Software to Law Enforcement

If you’re a fan of any of the detective shows available on television and streaming services, you’ve probably seen an episode or two where a crucial part of solving the fictional crime is using face-recognition software to identify potential suspects. It’s the digital version of an old-fashioned police lineup. The scenario usually involves detectives finding an old photo or obtaining some grainy security camera footage of a suspect. They turn it over to a colleague in a crime lab, where the photograph or video is quickly processed to identify the subject.

While it may not work exactly as seen in the movies or on a television crime drama, this type of digital matching technology is very real and in use today. With more people having camera equipped cell phones and individuals and business installing surveillance cameras, the amount of available video evidence that can be used to solve crimes has greatly increased. Not having the ability to leverage security video footage and photo evidence can be costly and time consuming for law enforcement departments with limited resources and heavy case loads.

NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems (ARS) group has a long history of providing the latest biometrics technology to government customers like our NeoFace® Reveal software, NEC’s high-speed matching facial recognition system. When it was independently evaluated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NEC’s NeoFace® algorithm achieved the highest performance evaluation as the most accurate face recognition solution on the market for “one-to-many” video searching.

Watch the video to see how NEC’s ARS group worked with the City of Irving Police Department on a deployment of NEC’s NeoFace® Reveal facial recognition software, which has resulted in high success rates in providing fast, accurate suspect identification intelligence. It has led to increased public safety and decreases in departmental costs by saving detective man hours and reducing the need for added personnel.

Want to learn more about Advanced Recognition Solutions from NEC? Let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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Marketplace Buzz at SpiceWorld 2017

Image Source: Spiceworks

“So How Can We Really Secure Our Network?”

Network security seemed to be at the top of everyone’s minds this year at the SpiceWorld 2017 Expo–how to protect your critical operations and secure your data. While we were demonstrating fault tolerant (FT) high availability servers in the NEC booth at the Expo, we met with IT pros from around the globe and had the opportunity to show more than 100 demos, and hear first-hand what’s at the top of many IT worry lists.

Repeatedly, concerns were voiced that if large Multi-National Enterprises (MNE’s) with seemingly endless resources and (we’re told) "top tier network security" can be hacked, then where does that leave smaller and mid-tier organizations?

The big question was “How do we protect our data, and make sure our business is disaster-proof?” What practices can we put into place for an actual worry-free, easy to manage IT environment?

Some specific topics that emerged were:

  1. Doing More With Less Many were interested in exploring how we can better secure our networks, and simplify our server storage administration, and still meet infrastructure needs with minimal cost. Organizations want to see a single solution to address backups, archive data, meet requirements for encryption and deliver a mechanism to move data offsite. These worries inevitably led to talks about HYDRAstor®, an award winning high-speed tier 2 data repository that will simplify administration, and save both time and money while addressing these needs.
  2. Disaster Recovery (DR) There was willingness to take a hard look at what we can do to deploy a reliable and cost effective recovery strategy—which is when the FT servers and the NEC IT ecosystem were of major interest. These kind of conversations about DR usually led to a predominant theme that week, about ways to protect our data from external attacks, like from cryptolocker, etc., and how we can efficiently replicate data off-site for DR and for business continuity purposes.
  3. Securing End Points and Mobility  Part of securing your network means not allowing your system to become vulnerable to letting viruses in. This defensive mode also touches on the deploying of technologies that secure all your end points, like smart phones, desktops/laptops, and protecting your remote and mobile work force.
  4. High Costs of Critical Ops Downtime Several manufacturing businesses recognized the value add of the fault tolerant (FT) server as it relates to the high costs of downtime, especially for avoidance of any assembly line disruption, application inconsistency or data log collection for legal purposes. We discussed the very real damages that can occur as result from a manufacture’s lack of ability to demonstrate product quality consistency through the production process. In manufacturing, it’s important to prove that data logs are collected, without interruption, so there is 100% data consistency and no chance of missing information. Yes, time is money, but so are production errors, especially when mistakes are really not acceptable–and evidence is needed to demonstrate as much.

It became very apparent that data security and ways to safeguard business continuity is a hot button right now. If some of these worries are keeping you up at night like so many at SpiceWorld this year, please check out the smart NEC data storage and operational resiliency solutions. This is real, proven data security, folks–solutions that can deliver some serious peace of mind.

To keep up with us on the latest at NEC, please join us on our NEC Spiceworks page.

For more information and to discuss your IT needs, feel free to reach out to NEC. Just let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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Six huge take-aways from the Federal Identity Forum in Washington, DC

People who know me will tell you that I’m an enthusiastic and optimistic person. It’s hard to get me down. If you see me at an industry event or tradeshow, I’m usually pumped up about something.

But even for me, this year’s Federal Identity Forum & Exposition (FedID 17), held September 12-14 in Washington, D.C., genuinely got me more excited for our industry than I’ve been in several years.

Formerly known as the Biometric Consortium Conference (BCC) and the Global Identity Summit (GIS) , the newly branded FedID is the U.S. federal government’s primary outreach and collaboration-building event with the worldwide identity community. The event has evolved over the years through a post-9/11 biometric boom to a slowdown in deployments, and now to a time when our industry is once again seeing a greater push toward mass adoption of identity matching technology.

NEC showcased its world-class biometrics solutions for multiple federal audiences and departments. We spanned a wide range of biometric technology, including fingerprint, face recognition, video surveillance and analysis, multimodal biometric enrollment, mobile fingerprint and forensic analysis. Where biometric identification is concerned, we had something for everyone.

This brings me to a list of favorites I’m calling the “six huge take-aways from FedID 17.” Here we go.

  1. Face is the Future – Nearly everyone who came to our booth wanted to see NeoFace Express, which is our rapid-access face recognition system. Express is currently being tested at major airports by U.S. Customers and Border Protection for the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Exit pilot program. Biometric Exit is the federal government’s way of tracking outgoing international travelers so that U.S. officials can get a better picture of how many non-Americans are overstaying their travel visas.Conversations I had with people who saw the demo agreed that face recognition, when executed with a high degree of accuracy and precision, is the security technology of the immediate future. It’s fast and frictionless, it’s accurate, and it can help increase efficiency in airports where we all agree that faster queuing times are a good thing. That makes me excited.

  2. Apple’s Face ID is a Victory for the Identity Industry – Apple’s big fall product launch event coincided with the first day of FedID 17, and as I said in my panel talk that same day, I think the Apple iPhone X Face ID feature is going to be great for our industry. Assuming the technology typically works as well as it did the second time Apple’s Phil Schiller attempted to demo the feature, and I assume it will, people will ultimately adopt face recognition as a lawful and acceptable security form. As my friend Peter O’Neill at FindBiometrics pointed out, our industry saw a huge push in fingerprint ID acceptance when the Touch ID scanner was introduced on the iPhone 5S. Expect iPhone X to do the same for face.

  3. Robust Testing is Critical – In most of the conversations I had about face recognition at FedID, there typically came a time when someone said of face recognition, “Yes, I agree, but it’s got to work.” It seems like an obvious statement, but those of us in the industry can all agree that achieving a high degree of accuracy and performance for a face recognition algorithm takes a lot of hard work, investment, and patience. Federal officials require that any technology they use for biometric identity is accurate and responsive enough to return a match in less than 2 seconds, often times milliseconds. Lucky for NEC, our NeoFace algorithm is the consistent top performer in performance testing by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

  4. Humans Are Important – Perhaps this is another obvious statement, but there are actually two ways that human intervention is absolutely integral to the success of any identity matching technology. After all, we are talking about protecting people’s personal freedoms at multiple levels here.For starters, face recognition and today’s more advanced identity matching algorithms are actually a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and they must be taught how to identify people in a wide array of conditions. That means we (the humans) have to teach it (the technology) about adverse lighting conditions, a wide diversity in facial features, shades, anomalies and shapes, odd capture angles, and many other factors, in order to achieve a higher degree of matching accuracy. We know this from more than 40 years of experience in developing identity matching technology.

    Secondly, any biometric technology, whether it’s fingerprint, iris or face recognition, will never be 100 percent accurate all of the time. Having a living, breathing, well-trained human being present to handle exceptions and errors in any automated identity matching process is critical to the long-term success of biometric technology. Just as fingerprinting has been around for more than 100 years in law enforcement, responsible and ethical use by humans will be key for biometric identity matching to be around for the next 100.

  5. Federal Officials are Moving Ahead – Obviously the world is not yet fully on-board with using biometric identity matching at every major checkpoint or public event, but it’s clear to me that the federal government is headed toward mass adoption at multiple levels. From the CBP Biometric Exit pilots to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s use of handheld fingerprint scanners and beyond, we haven’t seen the last of biometrics being deployed in our daily lives.

  6. Privacy is Important – It’s hard to talk about identity without addressing privacy in the same breath, and that was certainly the case in most of my conversations at FedID. People generally have concerns about privacy, specifically how long the government can retain biometric data for U.S. citizens and who will have access to your biometric data. Those conversations are playing out at the federal policy level as we speak. Every indication I’m seeing is that the policy discussions will not change the fact that face recognition is an extremely secure and convenient way to verify a person’s identity. Every face is different, and with the latest advances it has become very hard to fool the technology. No security or authentication technology is 100-percent perfect, but with great technology and the hard work of diligent humans, our face recognition comes pretty darn close.

It’s an exciting time to be in our industry. I look forward to continuing the healthy dialog and debate as we get closer to mass adoption within the federal government.

 

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Biometrics Enhances LPGA Fan Experience

Ladies Pro Golf Association (LPGA) founded in 1950 is a premier professional women’s sports association that provides programs, instruction, tournament play, as well as charitable events through its foundation.

Recently, at the ANA Inspiration Tournament in Palm Springs, California, the LPGA and NEC worked together to pilot a program that provided facial recognition solutions for safety and security of its fans, players, and tournament staff. The pilot also provided a unique VIP experience for its media and other credentialed patrons to create frictionless entry into various secured environments around the golf course.

Player, fan safety and a pleasurable customer experience are of the utmost importance to the LPGA, which prides itself on providing a safe, fun, family friendly event. To help ensure this experience during the ANA Inspiration event the LPGA used NEC’s NeoFace Express rapid access solution to eliminate long wait times by accurately identifying media members, tournament staff all while keeping a watchful eye for known persons of interest to law enforcement by searching against state/local and national law enforcement databases to keep potential threats away by alerting the appropriate authorities.

.@LPGA eliminates long wait times by accurately identifying #VIP members and staff. #CX #Biometrics Click To Tweet

Take a moment to the watch the video below to learn more about how NEC’s facial recognition solution was leveraged at the tournament.


Want to learn more about Advanced Recognition Solutions from NEC? Let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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Fill out the form, and we’ll have a solutions expert reach out to you.