2020 turned out to be a complicated year in many ways. Covid-19 has hit the whole world hard, with significant repercussions on companies which, as far as possible, have found themselves having to set up suitable infrastructures for remote work. Many social initiatives were born during the year and our field, IT and cyber security, is no different.
In this article, we want to communicate what are the initiatives we support to cope with the emergency. We remember how important it is for the whole community to respect the DPCM, social distancing and the use of masks.
ownCloud for companies: SOD’s social initiative
One of the main problems encountered is due to a lack of funds to support the remote work of its employees. In fact, it is not as simple as you might think to set up a consistent and secure system for sharing files and data for your employees. Through the use of insecure services, corporate data is placed in a dangerous situation.
We therefore decided to offer the professional version of our ownCloud service for free to help small businesses cope with this complicated period of teleworking. The social initiative is configured as a concrete help for the implementation of innovative solutions for companies.
How to access the offer
To access the professional version of ownCloud for free, just follow the steps below:
– Access the product page via the following link: https://cloud.secure-od.com/?cmd=cart&action=add&id=310
– Click on “Promotional Code” on the right
– Use the promotional code: “COVID-19“
More information on the offer
The offer is aimed at companies wishing to use it through the COVID-19 promotional code. No payment is required and for two months the service is available in the professional version. Following the promotional period, it is possible to decide in full freedom whether to subscribe to the service or discontinue it.
The social initiative also appears among those listed in the Smart Working section on the institutional portal of Digital Solidarity.
The [email protected] social initiative is a distributed computing project aimed at simulating the dynamics of proteins, in particular the folding process. Through the use of a particular software, it is possible to offer the computing power of a computer as an active resource for research.
The project is based on the concept of distributed computing. Basically, numerous computers interact / communicate with each other over the network in order to achieve a common goal. With this type of technology it is possible to achieve the objectives set in a relatively short time. Thanks to the subdivision of the main task into simpler sub-tasks that are distributed to the machines that are part of the project.
How does it work
Folding @ home is a project focused on disease research. The problems they solve while searching require a lot of computer calculations and need a lot of power to proceed. With the dedicated software it is possible to share with them the unused computing power, so that the project can proceed to seek potential cures.
Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, BSE (mad cow disease), an inherited form of emphysema, and many cancers are also believed to be the result of poor protein absorption. When proteins unfold incorrectly, they can clump together to form lumps. These can often gather in the brain, where they are thought to cause mad cow disease or Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. The software simulates the unfolding of proteins to study the consequences.
In the video presented here, an example of a protein deployment simulation.
Initiative for COVID-19
Folding @ Home, therefore, using a distributed computing model, has been working for research for some time. In this 2020, in which it is seriously important to speed up the time of research on Covid-19, they have decided to focus all available resources on that research. Their homepage reads:
“Together we have created the most powerful supercomputer on the planet and are using it to help understand SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 and develop new therapies. We need your help to continue promoting a powerful and license-free drug. Use your computer to help in the fight against Covid-19 “.
The aim is to discover and develop a free medicine (not bound by private patents) and effective in the fight against the disease. We at SOD promote this social initiative and want to give you a couple of tips on how to support research.
Using a VPS
To do your part with Folding @ Home, you need to install dedicated software on the machine you intend to use. Obviously it is also possible to do this through a virtual machine that you can set up with the SOD VPS service. By following the instructions you find on this page, you can set up the machine in a few minutes to use the dedicated software to share its computing power. The software is available as a template for all customers of the Cloud Server service.
By following the instructions you will contribute as part of our team, you can see the progress made by the team at this link: https://stats.foldingathome.org/team/259355
Installation on other machines
The software is available for any type of OS, downloadable from the main project page. We would also like to let you know that it is possible to join this social initiative with any computer, even the one you use daily.
The convenience of using a virtual machine is that it always remains on and does not require computing power to the machine you use to work, we think it is the best solution to support the project. For example you may want to assign free resources of your Cloud Server or Super Cloud service.
The launch video of the Folding @ Home campaign for COVID-19
Our support for territorial realities
Secure Online Desktop, however, was not limited to national initiatives. We care about the territorial realities and for this reason we have been offering some services free of charge to the Civil Protection of Albinea for years, for example:
– Web hosting
– SEO services
We also offer them specific services that can be used in certain circumstances: communication campaign, technical assistance, file exchange system, etc. We would like to give our practical contribution to such important services in the area, to maintain an active link with local associations.
AGiReCoN is the Young Reggiani Association Against Neoplasms and we support them for what concerns the technical IT part, but not only. Together with them, some projects are planned that have the aim of developing a web app to facilitate communication between doctors and patients.
We believe that small non-profit organizations like this one deserve to be supported, especially by local companies. Associations such as AGiReCoN sensitize the area in a concrete way. They are able to communicate effectively with a good number of people thanks to their nature of small associations, typically welcomed more warmly than international ones.
We are honored to be able to give our small contribution to AGiReCoN and to the Civil Protection of Albinea.
This year has brought many personal and professional challenges. Especially small and medium-sized enterprises have been hit and have had to run for cover to try not to close. We hope that the ownCloud promotional offer can help some small businesses manage their work remotely and we are sure that the [email protected] initiative is the best way to actively intervene in research, donating some computing power.
We also invite, as far as possible, the support of the realities present in your territory. Much can be done just by offering concrete and practical rather than economic help.
Let’s start with some clarity: smart working and teleworking are not the same thing. The second is what the British call “agile work” and means having a work contract that allows you not to have to attend company offices to work. Smart working involves a few days a week spent working remotely, typically at home.
This article deals with smart working in the general sense of a work methodology that does not involve the use of an office.
Advantages of smart working
With the rapid development of technology, employees can now work from anywhere in the world. The days when they were assigned to a desk have passed. Smart working is changing the concept of work.
Smart work starts from the assumption that “work is an activity and not a place”. Paul Allsop, founder of the Agile Organization, defines this new concept of work as follows:
Agile work consists in bringing together people, processes, connectivity, technology, time and place to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to perform a certain task. It works according to the guidelines (of the activity) but without boundaries (of how you reach it).
Once free to work remotely, employees feel emancipated, are prone to innovation and are generally more productive. Employees are more motivated and smart working leads to better customer satisfaction. Ultimately, there is a better profit for the company.
The definition of smart working is rather confusing. Every company, even within a specific sector, has its own way of working. There are no strict rules on how smart working is done.
There are basically four factors to consider when setting up a remote work system:
– Time: when you work
– Role: what do you do
– Place: where you work
– Sources: teams and activities
Regardless of what the smart working methods are, the company that wants to offer it, must provide adequate infrastructure to carry out remote activities.
All the evidence and data indicate that smart working works very well and offers discrete benefits for both the company and the employee. But one must be aware of the possible problems that this entails:
– Lack of trust and responsibility
– Corporate culture absent
– Resistance to change
– Difficulty in the technological approach by employees
– Lack of responsibility and tolerance of behavioral problems
Once these problems are overcome, there will be a solid foundation on which to grow and develop a company by embracing new advantageous working methods.
Adequate company structure
In order to offer teleworking to their employees, or a smart working solution, companies must have some essential tools. Not being physically present in the office, but having to work as if they were necessary, employees must be able to take advantage of adequate infrastructure to perform their duties.
For tariff some examples:
– Corporate laptop for employees involved in smart working
– Cloud storage service for versatile data sharing
– Teleconferencing tool to facilitate communication
– Infrastructure monitoring system for data operation and control of the operation of the machines involved
– VPN to create and manage dedicated and secure networks
Companies today can count on technologies that allow them to support this work structure easily and in an economic way. By implementing virtualization solutions, relocating your human resources becomes quite simple.
The virtualization of resources can take place at different levels and offer adequate solutions for every need. There are three main ways of virtualization.
With this a model, virtualized hardware resources are made available. The company can create and manage, according to its needs, a private cloud infrastructure, without worrying about where resources are allocated.
Examples: Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Google Cloud Engine, SOD SuperCloud.
In this model, online platforms are offered, thanks to which the user can release the web applications and services that he intends to provide to third parties. You can develop and run your own applications through the tools provided by the provider, which guarantees the correct functioning of the underlying infrastructure.
Examples: Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Google Cloud SQL
This model includes applications and software accessible from any type of device, through the simple use of a client interface. In this way, the user does not have to worry about managing resources and not even the infrastructure, as they are controlled by the provider that provides them.
Examples: G Suite, SOD Cloud Web Conference, SOD ownCloud, etc.
Smart working is increasingly popular and we can expect it to be the standard in the not too distant future. In order to support it, the company must have adequate services and infrastructures that support the workload.
The advantage is also guaranteed by the fact that the virtualization of resources is offered as a scalable service, capable of growing and adapting to the size of the company.
Cloud storage is a method of storing data that is placed in a place accessible through the network. This place is referred to by the term Cloud.
Once the data is transferred to the remote location, it becomes the responsibility of the Cloud Storage Service Provider. The main role of the provider is to ensure a functioning infrastructure and guarantee the owner access to data safely and at all times.
The need for external storage
Cloud storage is an inexpensive and scalable alternative to storing files on hard drives.
Normally, when users reach the storage limit of their hard drives, they have to transfer the files to an external drive. Although this is a more than acceptable solution for a private individual, when we talk about companies things get complicated.
Once the corporate storage limit is reached, a remote storage solution, or cloud storage, comes in handy.
Cloud storage services provide several business benefits. First of all, the elasticity of the storage limits that can be changed as needed. A further advantage lies in the delegation of maintenance. A company that requires an archiving service will not have to worry about installing and maintaining a local network or expanding it in anticipation of large quantities of documents to be stored.
But what is cloud actually? Let’s see how it works.
How the Cloud works
As mentioned, archiving service providers offer to store their customers’ data. Many are now using this type of technology, although few are still able to answer the simple question “what is the cloud?”. This is because the concept is often abstracted, for convenience, but once sent remotely, somewhere they have to be.
Most services store data on virtual machines hosted by physical servers. This explains in practice what the cloud is: a physical place where remote user data is stored. Each time the demand increases, new virtual machines are added to the existing ones.
When the customer of the service accesses his data, he does so through a browser or an app that connects to the provider’s servers. The server redirects the user to the correct location of the files.
As part of the service, providers typically store copies of data on different machines for redundancy. To avoid, in this way, the loss of data in the unfortunate event that a server is removed or its service interrupted.
Advantages of cloud storage
What is the cloud we saw it a little while ago, it’s time to understand what the real advantages are and what they include:
– Rapid implementation of the service: The service is activated in no time and requires no hardware intervention.
– Remote management: The responsibility for maintenance and security lies on the provider’s shoulders. All activities related to data storage can be ignored by company staff.
– Pay for what you use: The costs of the service are updated based on actual use. The savings are immediate and allow you to treat the cost as operational and not as capital to be invested.
– Scalability: There are no size constraints on the stored data. In a local network, on the other hand, expanding the space has a considerable cost and requires operations on the entire infrastructure.
– Security against data loss: Storing data on external servers eliminates possible economic damage if local data is no longer reachable.
What to pay attention to
There are also a few things to look out for when choosing a provider:
– Security: Security issues are the most common. Providers try to protect their infrastructure with updated technologies and practices, but they do not always succeed. It is essential to trust a provider who cares about the security of their servers, especially when dealing with sensitive data.
– Data administration: Being able to view, access and move data at will is a common concern with cloud resources. Delegating management to third parties offers its advantages, but may also limit control over data.
– Communication latency: Accessing data depends on the network bandwidth available. It can happen, especially when using public networks, that traffic is limited. Within the company, this problem can be avoided by increasing the bandwidth capacity of the connection.
In choosing the cloud storage service for your needs, many factors must be taken into consideration. Between these:
– Rates available
– Space available for each tariff
– Simplicity of implementation
– Ease of management
– Security and privacy
– Continuity of the service
Compared to other providers, ownCloud offers a wide range of very useful features.
Sharing between colleagues and people outside the company is simple and also allows you to set permissions for the individual user.
Security is guaranteed by an end-to-end encryption system and authentication with the OAuth2 protocol, but not only. A system of classification of documents is available which allows control over the distribution of the same.
All processes are tracked and it is possible to trace who accessed and what did the data.
ownCloud is a secure, complete and flexible system for professionals that also allows excellent collaboration between colleagues.
Through the ownCloud cloud storage service you can collaborate with your colleagues on securely stored content, both locally and remotely. The platform is the # 1 open source collaboration solution and boasts over 50 million users.
What is a cloud storage?
A cloud storage service, such as ownCloud, allows you to store your files on a remote server, so you can have an updated copy of it always available regardless of which device you are using.
The immediate advantage is that you don’t have to worry about files in case your device unfortunately gets damaged.
In addition to this, the ownCloud service offers the possibility to share your files with other people. For these it is possible to set different levels of authorization on the data, for example to enable a user to read only the file or even to modify it.
Security and file sharing on the go
With ownCloud, users have a unique interface from which to access, synchronize and share files on any device, anytime, anywhere.
Service compatibility is an important feature that makes ownCloud a very versatile product. Access is available for Android, Apple mobile devices and via the mobile web interface.
The security of the cloud storage system is guaranteed by features such as:
– password protection of files
– expiration of links to shared files
– anonymous sharing of documents
In addition, additional security is offered through two-factor authentication, a dedicated password policy, a firewall file and end-to-end encryption.
In short, company documents are in good hands, encrypted and accessible only to employees.
Easy collaboration with ownCloud
The cloud storage system offered allows colleagues to work together even if located in different locations. OwnCloud allows the simultaneous modification of files, facilitating the sharing of information and internal and external files to the corporate network.
A cloud storage system like ownCloud brings benefits to the productivity of the company while maintaining high security standards.
With features such as secure file sharing, guest users, collaborative editing and infrastructure modernization, ownCloud is able to facilitate digital collaboration and increase overall productivity.
The cloud storage offered is supported by numerous features made available to its users by ownCloud.
You can create a desktop and mobile synchronization interface customized with your own logo, to maintain the brand identity within the company and with external collaborators.
Classification of documents
In the Enterprise version, classification tags can be created and assigned to groups of employees to automate file sharing for the various work teams.
OwnCloud is extensible with custom features through the REST API, which allows integration with third-party apps. Through the ownCloud API it is possible to implement some functions of the service also on customized software.
News of the latest versions
Improvements to the service offered have been included since version 10.3. Here are some in detail:
The Media Viewer extension has been released and has become the default viewing application for images and videos, replacing the Gallery and Video Player extensions. The combination of the two functions in a single app fully meets modern web standards in terms of ease of use and lightness of execution.
Improved OAuth2 session management
Reports of some problems related to ownCloud clients with OAuth2 active meant that session management was improved. The OAuth2 protocol ensures secure and simplified access for clients, as well as a significantly higher level of security when incorporating ownCloud into third-party web applications and services.
Secure and professional file sharing with ownCloud
There are many sensitive documents that a company produces. These are shared between employees and external collaborators, who have the ability to access documents when and where they want, in order to maximize production.
OwnCloud offers a simple to use, safe and compatible system with any device, whether fixed or mobile. But not only that, it guarantees sharing security and records essential data to the IT departments for the control of corporate files.
The solution to the problem of professional sharing is quality cloud storage, ownCloud.
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