Faster, More Reliable Content Distribution at a Lower Cost? Thank you CloudFront

Those of us old enough to remember downloading songs from Napster will recall how frustrating it could be due to the time-consuming, constant buffering process. Fast forward to 2021, when nearly everyone has access not only to streaming music on demand, but endless video content from Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and an ever- growing variety of media apps. It’s never been easier or faster to listen to music or view content whenever and wherever we desire it.

The reason for this huge jump in speed and convenience is content delivery networks, or CDNs. Once only afforded by large corporations like Apple and Facebook, the cloud now gives organizations of all sizes cost-effective access to CDNs. Amazon first introduced its CloudFront CDN back in 2008, and it has evolved into an easy-to-use, convenient add-on for AWS cloud customers. Today, Amazon CloudFront delivers content to end users with lower latency using a global network of 225+ Points of Presence (215+ Edge locations and 13 regional mid-tier caches) in 90 cities across 47 countries. CloudFront customers enjoy three distinct advantages: an enhanced user experience, financial optimization (FinOps) and greater security.

Enhancing the User Experience

End users are provided faster, more reliable content when it’s hosted on a CDN. That’s because the global network of edge locations puts the content physically closer to the user, whether that content is high-def videos or documents and data used for business applications. CloudFront also leverages Amazon’s highly resilient, fully redundant, global backbone network for superior performance and availability for end users. Moreover, it automatically maps network conditions and intelligently routes a user’s traffic to the most performant AWS edge location to serve up cached or dynamic content.

But most users aren’t aware of all of that. All they know is that they’re able to set their eyes (and/or ears) on whatever documents or rich media content they’re seeking without hassle or interruption. And as we know, this has become the expectation. Organizations simply can’t afford to deliver anything other than a seamless user experience.

Harnessing Cost Savings, or FinOps

AWS customers who use CloudFront benefit from a cost-efficient and customizable pay-as-you-go model. Keeping everything “in house” with AWS means there are no transfer fees for origin fetches from any AWS origin (or server). And at no additional charge, AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) lifts the burdensome process of purchasing, uploading and renewing SSL/TLS certificates. Simply put, the data-out charge you pay on AWS is cheaper when you use CloudFront (versus a competitive product).

Earlier this year, Amazon introduced the CloudFront Security Savings Bundle, which, in exchange for a monthly spend commitment, provides businesses with up to 30% savings on their CloudFront bill. Customers looking to take advantage of even steeper discounts and custom pricing can do so by agreeing to minimum traffic commitments typically in the area of 10 TB/month or higher.

Augmenting Security

CloudFront adds an extra layer of protection for websites, as the CDN puts additional security features at the edge location. AWS Shield Standard uses application-level and network-level security assets to keep data safe against common network and transport layer DDoS attacks. Organizations wishing to protect against more complex infrastructure attacks have the option to add products such as AWS Shield Advanced and AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF).

Contact Lightstream today to find out how we can help you implement Amazon CloudFront and integrate it with other AWS services such as AWS Shield for DDoS mitigation, Amazon S3, Elastic Load Balancing or Amazon EC2 as origins for your applications and Lambda@Edge to further enhance the user experience by running custom code to personalize content and improve latency.

Lightstream Welcomes Denise Anderson as Senior Director of Partner Business Development

Salt Lake City, UT, August 24, 2021– Lightstream announced today the hiring of Denise Anderson as the company’s new Senior Director of Partner Business Development. In her role, Denise will be responsible for owning the executive partner relationships and helping to drive joint growth strategies.

“We are extremely pleased to have Denise join the Lightstream team,” stated Jim Cassell, Co-CEO of Lightstream.   “She is a natural strategist and corporate thought leader who can identify and implement innovative business development strategies and operational processes that will allow our cross-collaborative teams to achieve and exceed targets. Denise is critical to supporting the explosive growth that Lightstream is experiencing in our cloud, security, and managed services businesses.”

Denise has spent over 20 years in direct and indirect channel sales and service provider organizations.  She has spent the last 10 years primarily focused in cybersecurity channel strategy and partner-to-partner (P2P) business development. She has experience in developing, accelerating and operationalizing channel and partner Go-To-Market strategies with concrete results, including driving an average of 50% YoY growth with strategic partnerships and accelerating partner revenues in excess of $100 million.

According to Denise, “Lightstream represents an exciting opportunity for growth thanks to its combined cloud, security and network practices. Rather than simply identifying gaps, Lightstream’s lifecycle approach enables customers to trust a proven partner who can provide integrated professional, advisory and managed services across a customer’s entire IT stack. I look forward to continuing to solve some of our customers’ biggest challenges through the combined strength of our market-leading partnerships and Lightstream products and services.”

About Lightstream

Lightstream provides full-service cloud, connectivity, and security solutions to enterprises worldwide with a focus on managed services for all three, as well as cloud infrastructure implementation, security, and support.

Lightstream was named Palo Alto Networks Public Cloud Partner of the Year in 2018 and 2019, and is an AWS Security Competency Partner, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, and a Microsoft Cloud Platform Gold Partner with Security Competency. Visit us at http://www.lightstream.tech or LinkedIn.

Media Contact

cynthia.lawton@lightstream.tech

843-300-8445

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Lightstream Ranks 3892 on the 2021 Inc. 5000 List of the Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America

Salt Lake City, UT, August 17, 2021– Lightstream, an innovative Utah-based provider of full-service cloud, connectivity, and security solutions to enterprises worldwide with emphasis on managed services, has been named one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. by Inc. Today the publication announced its annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, where Lightstream ranks 3892 with three-year revenue growth of 81%.

Since its inception in 2003, Lightstream has been a leader in pairing fanatical customer service with technology solutions and services, while creating strategic, financial, and security wins for customers. The company has also been recognized year-after-year by industry-leading partners through global awards and high-level certifications. Lightstream was named Palo Alto Networks Public Cloud Partner of the Year in 2018 and 2019, and is an AWS Security Competency Partner, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, and a Microsoft Cloud Platform Gold Partner with Security Competency.

“We are extremely grateful for this honor and the trust our clients put in us to help them achieve their desired business outcomes by managing costs, reducing unnecessary complexity, and improving efficacy,” said Co-CEO Jim Cassell. Co-CEO Rod Stout added, “We credit our extremely high customer-retention rate to the care and quality of work our employees put in every day. We service customers across a variety of industries and our lifecycle approach ensures we continually innovate and optimize with market-leading technology services that demonstrate return-on-investment.”

The annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses. Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Patagonia, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000.

“The 2021 Inc. 5000 list feels like one of the most important rosters of companies ever compiled,” says Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief of Inc. “Building one of the fastest-growing companies in America in any year is a remarkable achievement. Building one in the crisis we’ve lived through is just plain amazing. This kind of accomplishment comes with hard work, smart pivots, great leadership, and the help of a whole lot of people.”

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000. The top 500 companies are featured in the September issue of Inc., which will be available on newsstands on August 20.

About Lightstream

Lightstream provides full-service cloud, connectivity, and security solutions to enterprises worldwide with emphasis on managed services for all three, as well as cloud infrastructure implementation, security, and support.

Lightstream was named Palo Alto Networks Public Cloud Partner of the Year in 2018 and 2019, and is an AWS Security Competency Partner, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, and a Microsoft Cloud Platform Gold Partner with Security Competency. Visit us at http://www.lightstream.tech or LinkedIn.

Media Contact

Cynthia Lawton

cynthia.lawton@lightstream.tech

843-300-8445

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MID-YEAR FOLLOW UP: 2021 Security Anti-Predictions

Back in January, we took a slightly different approach to the annual trend prediction blog post and instead sounded off about what the cybersecurity community predicted would NOT happen in 2021. At the time, industry veteran and Vice President of Security Strategy at Lightstream, Rafal Los took to social media to ask, “What’s the thing that probably won’t happen in cybersecurity in 2021?” Now that we’re midway through the year, we wanted to check in and see how accurate their anti-predictions were.

Tied for #1: Password Elimination & Meaningful Asset Management

Raf’s social media followers resoundingly agreed in January that we wouldn’t see an end to passwords as a means to protect our assets, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this forecast was 100% accurate. We still don’t have a better way to protect our personal and enterprise data, as thumb print and facial recognition technology have not yet evolved to ironclad status.

And though the work-from-home trend is not as strong as it was at the start of the year, the unpredictability of the COVID-19 virus continues to cause skepticism about re-implementing a full-time, on-site work strategy. That means remote workers continue to be at risk for identity-related breaches, and maintaining control of computer-related assets, including software, unauthorized devices and loss of security is still a major priority for corporate IT.

Asset management remains a significant challenge, particularly for the mid-sized business market that lacks the deep pockets to afford the security measures that large corporations have in place. Therefore, IT professionals must utilize the remainder of the year to adopt new ways to improve the identification, tracking and management of employees, applications and devices that access resources.

#2: Widespread Zero Trust Adoption

Most of Rafal Los’s respondents shared the sentiment early in 2021 that while the adoption of Zero Trust principles was imperative for the advancement of cybersecurity, they weren’t confident about it being widely adopted in the immediate future. As it turns out, we’re happy to report that this prediction may have been short sighted.

It’s possible that they underestimated COVID-19’s ability to accelerate the adoption of a Zero Trust model. It seems that the pandemic and resulting rise in cybersecurity attacks have fueled investments in new cybersecurity strategies as well as the buzz surrounding Zero Trust security.

According to CISO Mag, a recent report highlighted that more than three-quarters (78%) of companies around the world say that Zero Trust has increased in priority and nearly 90% are currently working on a Zero Trust initiative (up from just 41% a year ago).

The security of every organization depends on a new way of thinking, and the Zero Trust model of “never trusting, always verifying” is profoundly beneficial in an environment where remote working continues to be a trend. Lightstream’s Managed Security Services platform incorporates automation, Zero Trust concepts, best practices and industry-specific compliance to help IT leaders manage costs effectively, reduce complexity and improve the efficiency and efficacy of data center, network and cloud security.

#3: Fully Patched Environments/Systems

At the outset of 2021, Rafal Los’s social media followers were spot-on in their prediction that fully patched environments and systems would be highly unlikely this year. A perfect example of this is Microsoft’s so-called Printnightmare vulnerability that continues to be an issue as of the date of this blog post. Microsoft released a patch for this Print Spooling vulnerability in June of 2021. However, as we explained in January, much like how water usually finds a way to break through that patch in your garden hose, attackers are experts in finding ways to circumvent applied patches when the underlying cause is not fully remediated.

This patch, like so many others released by software providers, can be bypassed in certain scenarios, effectively defeating the security protections and permitting attackers to run arbitrary code on infected systems.

The process of identifying, categorizing, prioritizing, and resolving vulnerabilities in operating systems, enterprise applications (whether in the cloud or on-premises), browsers and end-user applications is an ongoing process that requires considerable time and resources. Therefore, we stand by our advice for enterprise IT to consider outsourcing this initiative to a trusted provider.

#4: Elimination of Phishing

We were far from shocked when many of Raf’s social media followers were emphatic that phishing scams would continue to haunt corporate IT in 2021. In fact, Digital Information World reported that a recent study found that phishing site volume in Q1 of 2021 outpaced Q1 of 2020 by 47 percent. They further reported that phishing is an ever-growing problem particularly for e-commerce and cryptocurrency platforms, but that social media and other sites and platforms that offer financial services also continue to experience phishing at a high rate.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers were increasingly causing a threat to online retail shoppers, the rental car market, job searchers, and those seeking mortgage relief. They also warned against government imposter scams. The FTC recently issued the following alert:

COVID opened the door for scammers to double down on their worst practices, while preying on consumers during an unprecedented pandemic.

Moreover, Harvard Business Review recently reported that 2021 has seen a dramatic increase in business-related phishing scams, with high-profile ransom attacks against critical infrastructure, private companies, and municipalities grabbing headlines on a daily basis. Lightstream recommends that IT professionals take a multi-faceted security approach to lessen the number of phishing attacks and reduce the impact when attacks do occur.

#5: Unification of C-Suite & Security Professionals

Some of Raf’s respondents forecasted that there would continue to be a dangerous rift between security professionals and the executives/boards they support. A June 2021 Security Magazine article stated that because the majority of security leaders are three steps away from the CEO, only 37% of security professionals believe their organization values and effectively leverages the expertise of the cybersecurity leader. Furthermore, cybersecurity leaders shared they have assumed more accountability and risk, but struggle to achieve the desired security posture, because they are not seen as influential or valued members of their peer group. If you ask us, the next six months represent a major opportunity for companies to develop strategies to ensure accountability “goes both ways.”

#6: Effective Use of Machine Learning

Despite the skepticism expressed by Rafal Los and his social media respondents earlier this year, it seems that enterprise budgets for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have been on the rise in 2021. Inside Big Data reported in July that The AI industry is growing and we’re seeing a shift in priorities to more organizations viewing deployment of practical AI as a core strategy and moving away from mere experimentation. Several media outlets are reporting an uptick in the use of machine learning in healthcare and finance, with AI and ML being used to improve consumer experience and engagement, automate business practices, predict cardiovascular disease and mortality, and translate brain signals from paralyzed patients.

Contact Lightstream to find out how we can help you unify strategies to build secure, generational capabilities that can help your organization accomplish its goals in 2021 and beyond.

MSSPs have failed us, now what?

 

Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) have been around for over twenty years. That’s long enough for Lightstream’s V.P. of Security Strategy Raf Los to explain (with conviction) why the model isn’t working anymore. Raf makes a case for “Security as a Service,” what this really means and why this is the new paradigm the industry should be – and is — shifting towards. Here’s a hint: CISOs need to get out the of business of managing security infrastructure.

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AWS FinOps – Saving Money or Making Money?

How to regain financial and operational control and ensure a fully optimized AWS cloud environment (including insights on AWS gp3)

We’re working in an era where business moves at lightening speeds. Technology has drastically increased our ability to innovate, our speed to market, and the ease with which we can scale up or down in response to ever-changing needs. But with this enhanced agility and on-demand performance comes big tradeoffs in the form of financial accountability and corporate governance. Gone are the days when a staff member would fill out a purchase order, submit it to accounting for approval, and wait days (or even weeks) for the greenlight to make the purchase. Our on-demand expectations have phased out the spending analysis step from the procurement model.

In few places is this truer than cloud environments. All too often, inefficiencies are not uncovered until after the damage has been done and we’ve wasted significant portions of our -cloud budget on needless overspending. And let’s be clear:  wasting money means you’re not making money. This is why there is so much buzz surrounding FinOps these days. Short for financial optimization, FinOps is the practice of bringing financial accountability to the variable spend model of cloud, enabling distributed teams to make business trade-offs between speed, cost and quality. There are a variety of ways to optimize cloud spending, such as contracting and other savings programs, reserved instances and infrastructure add-ons that can boost efficiencies.

Optimizing AWS Cloud Performance

AWS is one cloud provider that consistently launches new technologies to increase the cost effectiveness of its cloud environments. The R&D teams at AWS are always looking for new ways to make their tools more functional and less costly. One of the most recent products is gp3, a new type of solid-state drive (SSD) Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volume that lets you provision performance independent of storage capacity and offers a 20% lower price than existing gp2 volume types. The new gp3 volume type is designed for use with Amazon EC2 instances, an elastic compute cloud where virtual servers are procured as either dedicated servers or as part of a physical server. With gp3 volumes, customers can scale IOPS (input/output operations per second) and throughput without having to provision additional block storage capacity. This means customers only pay for the storage they need.

We find that most users are spending two-thirds of their budget on their EC2 product, and within that, about 40% of the spend is EBS related. The first step in optimizing this spend is to gain visibility across your entire environment and identify areas of high or rapid growth, then use best practices to optimize and contain your costs. Some ways to do this are by deleting or converting unattached disk storage, deleting old snapshots and terminating unused assets. Once you have done this initial analysis and clean-up, you can start taking advantage of savings programs. Based on your historical cost and usage data, AWS can recommend savings plan types, terms and payment options.

While it’s true that AWS and other cloud providers offer many ways for customers to save, it’s not always easy and can be quite time consuming to achieve results. Organizations often find that they don’t have the manpower to stay on top of cloud-cost management.

To help reduce the complexity of financial optimization, Lightstream offers a proprietary tool called Lightstream Connect that provides a holistic view of your technology spend and network through a single pane of glass. Lightstream Connect is not a new offering, however it was recently enhanced in early 2021 in response to AWS’s gp3 release. The first to market this type of functionality, Lightstream’s automated tool analyzes usage patterns and drives to gather statistics and generate a concise report of recommendations for infrastructure modifications that can increase savings.

Realizing Your Potential Savings

Most organizational leaders aren’t aware of just how much they can save by -optimizing their cloud environments. In fact, it’s not uncommon for businesses to cut as much as 20% of their monthly spend without jeopardizing security or performance. Financial and IT professionals who either aren’t sure how to go about taking advantage of these savings or don’t have time to devote to it should find a partner like Lightstream that is an AWS Advanced Consulting and Microsoft Gold Partner and invests in the tools and talent necessary to secure and optimize cloud environments. Lightstream helps customers re-incorporate financial, technology, operational and security accountability -back into cloud spending either by making it easier for them to monitor and assess their own environments, or by removing the burden entirely and doing it for them.

Lightstream has helped many customers to achieve -cloud optimization. With ongoing management of their cloud environments, on finance alone we save our customers millions of dollars every year. One customer was spending $1.2 million per month in AWS. Their IT team didn’t have the time, resources or visibility they needed to understand exactly where that money was being spent. Upon assessing their environments, Lightstream discovered that they lacked tags and partitions. So, we assisted them in a tagging strategy and determined that they were actually losing money on one of their products. Our Cloud Managed Services (CMS) team optimized the product to -improve its performance and make it profitable, ultimately saving the corporation over $1.5 million annually.

Lightstream offers a free assessment to identify which EBS workloads you should migrate to gp3 volumes and calculate your potential savings using our proprietary EBS optimization analytics application. To speak with a representative about having your environment assessed at no cost to you, contact us today.

Cloud FinOps – Saving money or making money‪?

 

Cloud technology has speed go-to-markets in ways unimaginable in the past. With these advances have also come setbacks, such as runaway costs and a breakdown in operational processes. As a result, the Cloud FinOps movement has emerged to bring financial accountability to the spend model of cloud. Lightstream’s Sjon Benson explains Cloud FinOps and how to keep the focus on optimization and performance. He touches on AWS’ gp3 as a use case for harnessing disruptive cloud innovation without blowing the bud.

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Matching Your Value to a Carrier-Support Mode‪l‬

 

Network complexity, industry consolidation and cost compression have affected carrier customer-care levels over the last decade. Lightstream’s Mark Feil decrypts the reasons behind this shifting landscape and outlines concrete steps businesses can take to find the right balance between connectivity, price and customer care.

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