Technology

Datacenter process compliance: the SOC 1 – SSAE 16 Type 2 audit

In 2014, the company behind Cloud My Office, Flashpoint Informatics, Inc, embarked on an external audit in order to certify our datacenter processes. Since our datacenter, which is located in State College, Pennsylvania, is privately owned and operated, it’s important to our clients that we have third-party verification of our processes. We chose to engage a respected outside CPA firm, the Moore Group, to complete the audit. Our SOC1 SSAE 16 Type 2 audit included verification of our processes related to backups, disaster recovery, hr, virus scanning, software programming and more.

Compliant Datacenter

The name SOC audit is an acronym for Service Organization Controls. The audit’s intention is to verify that we have established controls in order to accomplish the goals we’ve published to our customers. As a refresher, some of those goals are:

  • Securely storing customer information, and allowing access only to parties designated by the customer
  • Verifying that only approved personnel within our organization can access secured information, and that an audit trail exists when such data is accessed
  • Ensuring that we have backup procedures in place that provide a minimum of 30 days of recoverability for files and emails
  • Inspection of failover procedures for bandwidth providers, firewalls, routers, backup power and more
  • Visual inspection of the datacenter space including backup generators and fiber paths to and from the facility
  • Reviewing other procedures that relate to certifications such as PCI compliance and HIPAA compliance

The Audit Process

The audit is a significant undertaking for any organization, and includes several steps:

  1. Cloud My Office management produces a list of controls that we have implemented and are being tested at our organization. In our case, these controls covered everything from the HR policies for the team that manages your virtual desktops, redundancy of systems related to access the virtual desktop and exchange systems, file server backups and recovery, and custom software design processes.
  2. Cloud My Office then provides the third-party auditor with dates and examples of the testing that we have performed against our procedures. The auditor verifies these examples and reports independently.
  3. The auditor performs an on-site visit in order to verify controls contained in the audit checklist, and to interview staff relative to the HR and software design portions of the audit.
  4. The third-party auditing organization provides an opinion letter describing their view on how our controls and procedures are implemented.

Audited Exchange Hosting

Cloud My Office offers a full range of compliant hosting services, including Exchange hosting. We offer compliant email encryption service, to ensure that organizations requiring HIPAA compliance are able to meet legal and legislative requirements, as well as the needs of their customers. Our Exchange hosting system is redundant, and offers access via mobile device, web mail, and Microsoft Outlook. We even offer the ability to remotely wipe a mobile device if it is lost or stolen.

Compliant Hosting

Having completed a SOC 1 SSAE 16 – Type 2 audit with no issues found, our hosting is now verified as compliant with industry best practices. A full copy of the audit report is available upon request. Please contact us today for more information about our compliant desktop hosting packages for businesses of all sizes!

Network Share Drives on Cloud My Office

We get a lot of questions about how network share drives work on Cloud My Office so we decided to write a blog post about it. There are a lot of cool features about our network share drives that enhance the user experience on Cloud My Office.  Below are a few of the noteworthy features about Cloud My Office network share drives.

Creating Network Share Drives

Network share drives are really easy to create when using Cloud My Office. All you have to do is login to our web admin panel, click on network share drives then click on “Create New Network Share”.  Enter the size of the network share and Create Drive.  That’s it, your network share drive is created immediately.

Create New Network Share Drive

Modify Network Share Drive Permissions

Using Cloud My Office you can easily customize user permissions to network share drives.  You can control who has access to a network share drive in addition to wether a user has read or write permissions to the drive.

Modify Network Share Driver Permissions

Modify Network Share Drive Name and Drive Letter Mapping

You can customize a variety of settings in your network share drive including the drive letter mapping and share drive name. This makes it easy to your employees to find the right network share drive they are looking for when they have permission to multiple share drives.

Modify network share drive name

 

Access your network share drive via FTP

One of the best features about our network share drives is the ability to access network share drives via a FTP connection. FTP access can be enabled or disabled right from the web control panel.  FTP credentials are visible right from inside of the control panel.

Network Share Drive FTP Access

 

Printing from the cloud. How does it work?

Cloud My Office Printer VPN Box
We get a lot of questions during the sales and deployments processes about printing from a hosted virtual desktop. There are two ways that we can enable printing from Cloud My Office, here is a summary of each:

Pull-through Printing

We use Citrix XenApp to deliver hosted virtual desktops to our customers.  XenApp does a really good job interacting with the local computer that an end user is connecting from.  It will look for things like local drives (networked and internal) and even locally attached printers.  When XenApp finds local mapped printers, it will “pull-through” those printers to your virtual desktop session. You will then be able to print to those devices from your hosted virtual desktop.

Pull-through printing is a great feature of XenApp, however there are a few downsides.  For example, pull-through printing typically has to use what are known as “Citrix Universal Print Drivers”, these drivers are basically XenApp’s best guess for what is required by the printer to correctly print a document.  Universal drivers work for about 95% of all locally attached printers, but for the 5% that don’t play well with universal drivers you can get some pretty strange results (off-center pages, blank sheets inserted into your print job etc.).  We here at Cloud My Office were not satisfied with a poor quality print job so we came up with a solution — continue reading to learn more!

Cloud My Office Printer VPN Box

The best way to guarantee a perfect print job is to do the following:

  1. Connect your office and Cloud My Office’s data center together through a secure VPN
  2. Install the manufacturer recommended print drivers on the Cloud My Office print servers
  3. Render all print jobs on the print servers rather than on your virtual desktop to improve performance

By connecting your office and our data center together with a VPN and installing the manufacturer recommended drivers on our print servers, we can guarantee a perfect printing experience. The trouble has always been setting up a VPN.  VPNs has historically been expensive to install, and difficult to configure / use / maintain. We decided to “buck that trend” by creating our own VPN device that was designed specifically to allow for easy printing from Cloud My Office.  Enter the Cloud My Office Printer VPN Box (I know, it’s not a great name but it works).

Easy VPN Setup

The Cloud My Office Printer VPN Box integrates seamlessly into your existing network.  We like to call this device a “non-destructive VPN device” translation – you don’t have to make any network changes to use the Cloud My Office Printer VPN box.  This device can even work behind an existing VPN in your office if you want, all the device needs is access to the internet.

To install the device, simply plug in the network cable then the power. That’s it!  The device will boot up, scan your network for any printers and “phone home” so that the printers found on your network can be added to your account by our engineers.

Managing Printer Permissions

When you install a Cloud My Office Printer VPN Box in your office you can easily manage who can print to what printer right from the Cloud My Office admin panel.  You can set which users can print to each printer and even if the printer is the default printer for each user.  Check out the screenshot below to see how it works.

Configuration

Network Scanning Setup

Cloud My Office Printer VPN Boxes can also be used to facilitate network scanning.  While this is one of many ways that we can enable network scanning these devices give us a lot of flexibility when deploying a new hosted virtual desktop infrastructure.  More on network scanning in another post…

Easy Maintenance

Cloud My Office Printer VPN Boxes are simple to maintain.  There is really only one troubleshooting step if there is ever an issue — power cycle the device.  It’s really that easy…

Bottom Line

We think that the Cloud My Office Printer VPN Box is a really cool device that makes it really easy and affordable to configure robust network printing from your hosted virtual desktop.  The vast majority of our new customers elect to deploy these devices onsite because it eliminates so many headaches of typical cloud printing.

 

Internet Explorer for Mac

Ever wish you could run Internet Explorer from a Mac?  Well okay maybe you don’t want to run Internet Explorer on a Mac but maybe you want to access a web app that only works in Internet Explorer from your Mac.  Maybe you don’t want to run your web app on your Mac but on your Android tablet or iPad…  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could work the way you want to on the device that you want to use? read more

The Cloud Operating System

At Cloud My Office, we focus on providing awesome technology at really affordable prices. To that end, we’ve spent significant time developing our Cloud My Office diskless thin client Operating System. We call our diskless operating system CMOS.

Open Thin Client

Based on an open-source linux distribution called Ubuntu, CMOS is an easy-to-use operating system that does just one thing really well: connect to the Cloud My Office cloud. We do sell hardware that contains our image pre-installed but you can also just download the CD and install it yourself. read more

Virtual Desktops for Business

I can’t tell you the number of business owners that I have talked to that love the idea of the cloud but don’t know how to get their business there.  Cloud applications that solve specific business problems like accounting management and cloud computer backup solutions are great, however there is one solution yet to be solved by the cloud (until now)… What is that problem you as? Desktop configuration control. read more

Considerations When Moving to Hosted Virtual Desktops

Considering a move to hosted virtual desktops or applications in the cloud? Great! In this post we’ll try to outline some of the issues — and potential perils — that you should consider before taking the plunge.

Performance of Virtual Desktops in the Cloud

Let’s talk about what really matters: how fast an application launches, how quickly you can download from your email, the speed at which you can browse the web, how fast you can copy files from your PC and more. These are things that most computer users never think about but at cloud my office, we know they’re what make or break the cloud desktop experience. read more