Tag Archives: Cloud Computing

Get Your Business Ready for the Cloud with a Strong Strategy

While many businesses have already adopted cloud computing to a certain extent, others are still new to the technology. Whether your business is using cloud computing already, or is considering a move, it’s never too soon to develop a strong strategy. Read on to learn more about developing a strategy to guide your business in considering cloud computing.

Strategy, Then Implementation

A key feature of a cloud strategy is that it addresses why a company might move some or all of its operations to the cloud. According to a report by Gartner, “a cloud strategy explores and defines the role that cloud computing should play in an organization.” Formulating a strategy is a task of the entire organization, not simply the IT department. Departments such as human resources, legal and finance can provide valuable input, since they will use the computing resources that the cloud can provide.

A company that has already moved some of its data and applications to the cloud can also develop a strategy moving forward. It’s easy to assume that if a business has moved to the cloud, it’s too late to develop a strategy. Quite the contrary, a strategy can help refine a company’s motivation for adopting cloud technology, based on lessons already learned. Strategists can examine how the cloud has benefited the business so far, meeting its needs (conforming to data regulations, for instance). Along with accomplishments, it gives a business  the opportunity to correct any mistakes going forward. Once a strategy has been formulated, then implementation (including choosing a provider and a cloud environment) can begin.

Contingency Plans as Part of Your Cloud Strategy

It may seem odd to consider an exit strategy at the starting point, but developing an exit strategy makes sense. An exit strategy outlines contingency plans, what to do in case of the unexpected. For instance, what if something happens to the data center that your cloud service provider uses, or if you need or want to change providers. An exit strategy entails more than simply ending a service level agreement (SLA); it also affects what happens with your data. Is it portable, as well as secure? Another option is scaling back, instead of exiting entirely. These are issues to consider in developing a strategy.

Before implementing cloud computing, and choosing a provider or cloud environment, consider the overall needs and goals of your business. For assistance in developing a strategy, contact us today.

What is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)?

Cloud computing is now a common way for small to medium-size businesses to provision computing resources for flexible, cost-effective results. Read on to learn about how one cloud model–Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS–can help your business manage spend and maximize results. 

IaaS Provides Flexibility

According to Gartner, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a standardized, highly automated offering, wherein computing resources, complemented by storage and networking capabilities are owned by a service provider and offered to the customer on demand. With the infrastructure owned and managed by the cloud service provider, the business using the resources no longer needs to maintain infrastructure on-premises. The business can let the provider do the work of maintenance and updating, which converts a capital expense to an operating expense paid on a monthly or annual basis. In an IaaS model, a company can purchase extra resources for experimental technical initiatives, then scale back when needed. On-site infrastructure is available, to which new applications can be added.

What to Consider Before Adopting IaaS

Infrastructure as a Service, with its many benefits, still needs to be evaluated according to business needs. Some companies such as health care organizations are subject to compliance with HIPAA and HITrust, and will need a private cloud environment. Encryption of health-care data is vital, when it is in motion (as in the case of a telehealth appointment) or at rest. IaaS offers the most control for health-care organizations, including the ability for IT admins to modify how data is handled and stored. While some organizations might need to spend more for this level of security, maintaining security and compliance is worth the extra spend. Organizations need to examine their budget to make sure they can handle the expenditure for trained staff as well as increased data storage. 

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides the benefits of cloud computing while eliminating the need for control and management of on-site infrastructure, in many cases. To evaluate your business’ readiness for IaaS, contact us today. 

Choosing the Best Cloud Environment for Your Business

Cloud computing, once an emerging technology, is now common, and is proving valuable in this time of remote work resulting from the COVID-19 quarantine. To access data and applications, all that is needed is a computer and an Internet connection. Each type of cloud environment–public, private, and hybrid–comes with its own benefits and considerations. Read on to learn more about what each offers, and to consider which is best for your business. 

Benefits and Considerations of Public and Private Cloud Environments 

While all cloud environments have benefits, your business’ needs will impact which one you choose. Public cloud, often used by businesses, schools, and government organizations, is the least expensive, and is easily accessible. All that’s needed is a computer with access to the Internet. Public cloud, like other cloud environments, is flexible and easily scalable, depending on how much demand your business receives. A consideration is sharing computing resources with other entities, and how much bandwidth is available. Another question to ask your IT professional is security of data during migration to the public cloud, and once it resides there. Private cloud environments, in contrast, can help a company keep its data and applications secure, since the public cloud environment is used exclusively by one organization. For organizations needing to follow data-protection regulations, they might ask about private cloud. Private cloud has the same flexibility as public, with added security. 

Considering a Hybrid Cloud Environment 

A hybrid cloud environment is a combination of on-premise, third-party, public cloud and private cloud, with some infrastructure owned and used by a business, and some owned by a cloud service provider. A company might consider hybrid cloud if it wishes to have some infrastructure onsite for failover in case an off-site data center experiences an outage. If a ransomware attack occurs, locally stored data can be accessed easily. One advantage of off-site resources is access to new features not available on a legacy system. Another consideration for use of hybrid cloud includes the health of your network;is it strong enough to keep from developing bandwidth bottlenecks resulting in loss of productivity? 

For assistance with determining your ideal cloud environment, or looking at a new way of using the cloud, contact us today. 

Considering Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing has become more and more popular over the last several years, with that popularity continuing into 2018 and 2019. According to a report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), public cloud services will grow from nearly $70b to more than $141b in 2019. SaaS is likely to be the key consumption model for Cloud Services, and Telecommunications is expected to be the fastest-growing vertical industry. According to COMPTIA, half of all small to medium-sized businesses report having 31% to 60% of their IT functions in the cloud environment. What is cloud computing, and what are its benefits? Read on to learn more about this technology.

More Access for Predictable Cost

Cloud computing is an Internet-based model of computing, on a pay-per-use basis, with benefits to organizations large and small. Using the Cloud saves costs, partly by changing a capital expense to an operating expense. Businesses no longer need to replace aging infrastructure, but can move their data, systems and applications to a subscription-based model like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS). Businesses, at least in the public cloud environment, can share common system resources (hardware, software, operating system and application database). Usage monitoring and a utility billing model keeps the costs predictable. Cloud computing increases employee productivity by giving the business a common interface, allowing employees to work outside the office, and outside traditional office hours. Another function of the cloud is data backup, allowing the company to have data offsite for easier backup and recovery in case of a disaster.

What To Consider Before Moving to The Cloud

With all these benefits, there are still things to be considered before migrating to the Cloud. First, what’s the right environment for your business? If your business is subject to regulations such as HIPAA, a private cloud environment may be a requirement. Another consideration is where the provider’s data resides; ideally it will be in a data center close to a major power grid to ensure uninterrupted service. Finally, evaluate the current health of your network to make sure there are no weak spots to ensure rapid and consistent access to your Cloud Services.

The Cloud can benefit your business in many ways, allowing you to save costs and giving you flexible access to your mission-critical systems. Contact your technology advisor today to learn more.

The Business Benefits of Cloud Computing

In little more than a decade, cloud computing has changed from a cutting-edge technology to a well-established part of the IT function in many businesses. Cloud computing offers the benefits of cost savings and access to new technology. Read on about what cloud computing can do for your business, as well as what to consider before migrating to the cloud.

The Growth of Cloud Computing

According to a report published by CompTIA in 2018, 81% of companies say that operating in the cloud has had at least a moderate, if not outstanding, effect on their automation efforts. Even though the hype over cloud computing has decreased, this mode of computing is still a key feature of IT planning in most companies. The IDC expects that cloud spending will reach $162 billion dollars by 2020. And more and more IT spending in companies is cloud-based.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

A key benefit of Cloud Computing is providing new tools companies can use to grow their business. One such tool is desktop as a service (DaaS), a utility often included in Cloud services. Other commonly used applications are VoIP, Call Center and Cloud backup of data. Since companies can move their data and more routine operations like VoIP, call center and data backup to the cloud, they can focus on strategies for long-term growth and explore new prospects for business growth. For IT workers, the prospect of job loss lessens, since they can learn new skills and expand their roles. Finally, migrating to the cloud can help reduce costs by changing capital expense—perhaps in the form of aging infrastructure—to operating expense. But even with all the benefits of cloud computing, certain factors need to be considered before migration.

What to Consider Before Choosing the Cloud

When your company is considering migrating to the cloud, first consider whether public or private cloud is right for your business. If your company is subject to regulations such as HIPAA, a private cloud solution may be right for you. If you are migrating to a public or hybrid cloud, ask the potential provider about the security of their datacenter. Also consider, data centers near reliable power grids are the least vulnerable. If you have employees working remotely, make sure they know proper security procedures. Other options for your company may be using virtual desktop for applications or software-as-a-service to get life out of aging infrastructure.

To learn about the benefits of moving to the cloud as well as what to consider when choosing a cloud service provider, contact your technology advisor today.

Aim for the Cloud

The time may be right for your business to move to the Cloud. With its many advantages, including cost savings, security, and flexibility, cloud computing also gives businesses a competitive advantage, allowing employees to work anytime,  anywhere. According to an article by Forbes, the trends indicate more and more cloud usage, with an increase from 19% to 57% in 2016 and 2017. By the end of 2018, 80% of all IT budgets will be dedicated to the Cloud. According to the ninth annual CompTIA Security Trends Study, more than 59% reported moderate to heavy usage, and nearly three-quarters have confidence in providers’ ability to produce a secure cloud environment.  

Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

Why move to the Cloud? One reason businesses migrate is being able to work across multiple devices including mobile, desktop and laptop computers. Cloud computing is scalable and can handle extra demand as your business grows. Not only that, but more employees work remotely, and Cloud computing enables teleworkers to access the company’s cloud-based systems when working remotely. Lastly, moving to the Cloud can, in many cases, convert the capital expense (CAPEX) of hardware and infrastructure to a predictable operating expense(OPEX).

Efficiencies of Cloud Computing

Predictability of cost is one key reason businesses make such a strategic decision. With Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), businesses can eliminate the up-front costs of hardware and systems updates, and phase out aging hardware. While the business will need to plan for customization, migration, and integration, Cloud computing allows customers to pay a predictable cost for the resources they use.

What to Consider Before Migrating to the Cloud

Even when Cloud computing makes perfect business sense for your organization, there are some things to consider before selecting a Cloud Service Provider (CSP). Be sure to evaluate a prospective CSP for security. Many companies first evaluate their provider based on encryption of data, both while the data is migrated to the Cloud and when it is at rest. It is vital for hospitals and other healthcare organizations to have a secure environment, given the need to comply with HIPAA regulations. Likewise, businesses processing customers’ credit card information must comply with PCI rules. A private cloud environment might be required for such industries. The geographic location of a data center is also important, and it is best to consider data centers near other buildings on a reliable power grid for Cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas).

If you are considering migrating to the cloud, or are in the process of selecting a Cloud service provider, contact your technology advisor to help you move to the cloud with confidence and ease.

Cloud Migration

Cloud Adoption and Software as a Service (SaaS)

Most businesses today have adopted some form of  Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) to run their business. According to a recent article by Forrester Research,“SaaS Improves Business Results Due To Greater Innovation and Agility — And Is Increasingly The Foundation for Business Opportunities.” Rather than investing up front in costly infrastructure, implementation and configuration, Cloud Computing using Software as a Service provides an economical and turnkey approach to access the latest technology at an affordable price. Here are some examples.

Cloud Computing to Improve the Customer Experience

Call Center, Chat, Unified Communications, VoiP and other customer-facing technologies can be rapidly deployed within your business using the SaaS model. Cloud Computing provides flexible deployment options based on your needs and an economical subscription approach instead of an upfront Capital Expense (CAPEX). Make sure your network and infrastructure is ready to handle the additional load that comes with increased Voice and Data traffic associated with these solutions.

Cloud Backup to Protect Your Business

Another popular use of Cloud Technology is for data protection in the form of Cloud Backup. Using Cloud Backup rather than antiquated tape or on-premise storage gives added protection and rapid recovery when things go wrong. What’s more, many Cloud suppliers of SaaS solutions include backup capability within their application so you won’t need to worry about business disruption in the case of a failure.

Hosted Business Applications

There is an ever-widening range of business applications including CRM, Accounting, HR, Email and more. You may be using these SaaS applications in your business and taking advantage of working anywhere and on any device (mobile, tablet and/or desktop). In many cases the subscription policies associated with these applications are flexible. Because you will rely on these systems for productivity, you will need to ensure you have reliable broadband network access to avoid loss of productivity due to slow connections.

If you are considering deploying more Cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technologies in your business, contact your technology service provider and ask about a Cloud Readiness Assessment of your business today!

Cloud Migration

Migrating to the Cloud? Ready for Takeoff?

Companies large and small have migrated to the Cloud Computing model for economic and competitive advantage. As you evaluate your options, here are some questions to ask that will help you get ready.

On-Premise vs. Cloud?

Do you have mission-critical files and applications on premise? If so, your applications and their data may be at risk. If you are in a flood zone, fire zone or area of extreme weather your systems could be in jeopardy. Cloud computing data centers consolidate infrastructure in areas that are adjacent to reliable power grids, like near hospitals and police stations. Your cloud infrastructure is likely out of harm’s way and/or reliably redundant in multiple locations.

Is Your IT Infrastructure Near End of Life?

We all try to get the most from our investments. Your Infrastructure may be at the end of a warranty period or perhaps your applications and operating systems are no longer on the current version or are no longer supported.  

You may be able to squeeze a little more out of your desktops and laptops if you access your applications and data via a virtual desktop or software-as-a-service solution, provided the operating systems can be upgraded and secured. However, your on-premise servers may put your business at risk if you are relying on older hardware that is subject to failure. What’s more, this may be the weak link in your network security, inviting unauthorized users to access and infect your network.

Do your Employees Work Remotely?

Cloud computing lets you access your applications and data from anywhere, any time, in a secure manner. Many popular Cloud applications also provide optimized access from mobile devices. With the proper security, your employees can have 24/7/365 access to improve customer service, employee productivity and employee morale.

CapEx vs. OpEx?

One of the many benefits of Cloud Computing is the economic model to subscribe to computing resources and only pay for the portion you use. You may have flat-fee monthly subscriptions (based on user counts, mailboxes, data size and other attributes) that can simplify how you pay for and account for technology. Rather than making a large upfront investment in capital, you can subscribe to services and pay as an operating expense over time.

If it is time for you to migrate to the Cloud or accelerate Cloud Adoption in your company, there is no need to go it alone. Contact your trusted technology advisor for a complete assessment of your Cloud Readiness today.

Technology Budget

What’s in Your Technology Budget Next Year?

Many companies start their budget this time of year. As you are thinking about strategic investments, consider how you can leverage technology to improve customer service, make your employees more productive, and possibly save money. Here are a few considerations for next year’s technology budget.

Network Upgrade

Your network is the backbone of your technology infrastructure. Growing demand for high bandwidth activities including Communications and Collaboration, Call Center and Cloud Backup all require a bullet-proof network. What’s more, a number of advancements in Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) could save you a bundle. Consider having a network assessment or Telecom Expense Audit to see if you can save on your communications and networking costs next year.

Fixed Priced IT

If you haven’t deployed Managed Services to augment your technology infrastructure, you might consider how you could benefit from this model. By proactively monitoring and managing your infrastructure, your systems will work better and your cost of systems updates and support will be fixed.

Cloud Computing

The economic model of Cloud Computing allows companies to avoid unnecessary capital expense (CapEx) and use operating expense to subscribe to a range of Cloud Services.  Software as a Service (SaaS) provides the latest version of your popular productivity applications, and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offers a consumption model for scalable computing power.

Data Protection

Cyber threat, privacy data breach, human error and natural disasters can put your business at risk. Having a solid data protection plan helps businesses avoid the unnecessary downtime, fines, legal fees, and loss of reputation associated with data loss.

There are many ways to invest in the future of your business. Technology infrastructure is one of them. Consult your technology advisor now to get input on your planning for next year.

Getting the Most from Cloud Computing

Advantages of Moving to CloudCloud Computing adoption continues to outpace the growth rate of total IT spending. According to research firm Gartner, the market for public cloud services will continue expanding, with year-over-year revenue growth of 17.3%. Compare this to Gartner Growth expectation of total IT Growth of 1.4% and you can see how the market for Cloud Computing is maturing. Cloud Service Providers offer a wide range of solutions. According to CompTIA Trends in Cloud Computing, Cost reduction is the primary driver for VoIP, cited by 67% of companies with a VoIP implementation. Integration with other applications was cited as the second biggest driver by 36% of VoIP adopters. Here are a few tips to help realize the benefits of savings and integration of popular Cloud Services.

 

Manage Rogue IT


Rogue IT is a term for technology deployed without the aid of a technology advisor. Cloud Computing empowers Line of Business (LOB) owners to rapidly deploy Software as a Service (SaaS) applications and to minimize the involvement of a technology advisor. Financial management, HR management, Call Center and Help Desk services are common SaaS application purchase decisions made by LOB owners.

More often than not, LOB owners involve a technology advisor in the purchase decision for final approval and consultation. Cloud integration, security concerns, and the need to centralize technologies are common reasons to include a technology advisor. Without the input from a trusted advisor, the costs of Cloud adoption can increase, and the creation of silos from lack of integration can result.

Navigate Cloud Security Concerns

Due to the nebulous nature of Cloud Computing, Cloud Security can be a challenge to manage and is only as strong as its weakest link. By proactively managing their technologies and workflows, companies can avoid security issues including lack of regulatory compliance, malware infection and denial of service attacks. Seeking the support of a trusted technology advisor provides an unbiased perspective for performing due diligence on suppliers and partners so your business can use the Cloud with confidence.

Ensure that your Cloud Service Providers monitor their systems for malware and utilize firewalls and encryption. These actions protect your assets in the Cloud and ensure that Unified Communications, Web Hosting and other customer-facing applications run smoothly.

Manage Internal Change from Digital Transformation

Cost savings and integration resulting from Cloud Adoption will have a positive impact on internal operations. Building new policies, or updating existing policies and procedures, allows your employees to take full advantage of Cloud Computing Adoption. Also consider reviewing how you monitor performance for your network, applications and Cloud Services. Keeping things performing will contribute to the overall productivity and savings realized from Cloud Computing.

Cloud Computing adoption drives change at many levels in today’s business world. With the help of a technology advisor you can get the most from your Cloud Computing investment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your technology advisor to lift your business to the Cloud.