Top 10 Things to Consider When Moving to the Cloud and Choosing a Hosting Provider

As businesses continue the global migration to cloud, veterans of the field are learning from past successes and failures. A new infographic from aims to help businesses as they search for a cloud hosting provider. Here are the ten major things companies should keep in mind:

Moving to the Cloud

1. Are you looking to cut costs? A move to the cloud can be done with minimal start-up costs and predictable ongoing operating expenses.

2. What are your business needs? In an organization of any size, cloud solutions provide a benefit by allowing team members to collaborate on projects using any device, as well as working on files simultaneously.

3. Is your infrastructure aging? As an organization’s technology ages, using a cloud provider allows it to save money on equipment and software replacement.

4. Do you want to simplify your disaster recovery plan? A regularly updated disaster recovery plan is essential for any business. A cloud provider can take over some of the responsibility, using skilled, experienced technologists to keep an organization’s data safe.

5. How easy are your systems to manage? Instead of requiring installations on individual devices, cloud services put data on the web, where it can be used without installation.

Choosing a Cloud Provider

6. Does the provider have a positive track record? Careful research can reveal a provider’s reputation in the industry. Pay particular attention to the company’s after-sales support, customer service, management, and technical support.

7. What are the provider’s technology capabilities? A business that will be relying on a technology provider should be fully aware of the solutions that provider offers. What is the provider’s record for keeping up with market demands and business needs?

8. What is the provider resiliency? A provider’s uptime and outage history is essential, as is any availability guarantees. A provider should be willing to put these promises in writing as a Service-Level Agreement (SLA).

9. What are the provider’s security capabilities? Security is essential. Check the provider’s capabilities in protecting your organization against malware, as well as any encryption mechanisms, industry and governmental compliance, identity management, and data center security.

10. Are there any associated costs? Before seeking a cloud provider, determine your technology budget and seek a provider that offers solutions that align with your pricing goals, both long- and short-term.


Infographic: Study Shows Cloud Computing on the Rise

A new infographic released by shows that cloud adoption rates are on the rise, echoing predictions throughout the technology and business sectors over the past couple of years. The infographic, which is available below, demonstrates that not only is the presence of cloud hosting increasing, but many people are enthusiastic enough about the cloud to recommend it to their peers.

Current Adoption

The infographic is based on a Microsoft study, which gauged cloud adoption rates among a wide range of organizations, found that the vast majority of organizations of all sizes use both Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and hosted infrastructure services. Both SaaS and hosted infrastructure services are currently being used most by organizations with less than 100 employees.

Government and Education leads in outsourcing, with more than 60 percent of organizations reporting participation. This sector is also more likely to utilize Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Small businesses lead in utilizing colocation services, which has slower adoption rates than other cloud segments.

Cloud Recommendations

Respondents were also asked about their eagerness to recommend cloud services to their peers. For most organizations, better service and lower costs were the top reasons to recommend cloud services to others. In fact, both large organizations and government were overwhelmingly in favor of the cost-saving benefits of cloud services.

Future Challenges

The survey also explored the challenges businesses would face in the next couple of years. Cost control topped the list, with increasing profits coming in second. Security and competition ranked third. With cloud computing’s cost effectiveness ranking so high in the recommendations category, many businesses are likely to make the connection, realizing cloud adoption may be the solution they need to their economic concerns.

As cloud computing continues to drive technology in business, the relationship between cost, service, and adoption will likely be mentioned again. Click on the below infographic to learn more about the current and future state of cloud computing.

100% Guaranteed Uptime: What Does It Mean?

the-state-of-iotIn an effort to attract customers in a competitive environment, many cloud hosting providers are guaranteeing 100-percent uptime. In some cases, providers leave room for error by offering a 99.99-percent uptime guarantee. But what do these promises mean? Can you count on your servers never going down?

The word “guarantee” throws many professionals off. Traditionally in business, when something is guaranteed, that means a consumer receives a refund or free services if the promise isn’t delivered. But many businesses have found that isn’t necessarily the case in cloud services. So what does that guarantee mean?

“We’ll Make Every Effort”

As one site pointed out, a 99.99-percent uptime guarantee means your site could be down or your files could be inaccessible for as much as 5 minutes of downtime per month. Some businesses go lower to offer only a 99-percent guarantee, meaning your site could be down as much as seven hours per month.

If a provider offers a 100-percent guarantee, it’s important that you carefully scrutinize the fine print before signing. What will the process be if there is an outage? Does the service provider exclude circumstances beyond its control? If so, what circumstances are covered and how often do those circumstances occur? A data center that is subject to frequent outages may not be the best choice for your business anyway.

Research History

One thing about an uptime guarantee is that you have to catch it to know it’s hasn’t been provided. Unless you personally witness the outage, you may be relying on customer complaints and employee reports, rather than witnessing it firsthand. When you report it to your provider, that provider should be able to provide a report showing the guaranteed uptime was provided.

One of the best ways to guarantee you’re choosing the right hosting provider is to ask for an outage history to determine if uptime is at the level you expect. Once you have this report, you can choose the best service for your business with the knowledge you’ve chosen a provider that will keep your servers running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

3 Ways the Cloud Can Help Disaster-Proof Your Business

disasterIt can happen to any business. Without warning, a natural disaster can wipe out an entire office building overnight, leaving professionals without the phones, computers, and paperwork they need to do their jobs. More than 43 percent of businesses hit by a natural disaster will never reopen and another 29 percent will close within a year.

By switching to a Cloud Hosting model, businesses can begin the process of putting data safely on an offsite server. This will ensure if the worst does happen, the business will be impacted as little as possible. Here are three major ways cloud hosting protects your business.

Data Security

Because data centers are located far away from a business’s center of operations, the same natural disaster that impacts an office building won’t affect its data. Additionally, cloud hosting providers usually have offsite backups in place that ensure even if something happens to one data center, data is safely backed up elsewhere.

Anywhere Access

One of the biggest benefits to cloud hosting during a disaster is that workers can access information from anywhere. Displaced employees can log in from home or a temporary office and have the business up and running immediately, responding to emails and doing the same work they would have done in the office.

No Downtime

In addition to being able to access data anywhere, businesses that have chosen cloud-hosted phone services can begin answering phone calls at the designated start time, as early as seconds after a disaster has happened. Cloud phones can be transferred anywhere, allowing employees to answer phones as though they were in the office even when they aren’t. A business’s customers and clients won’t even realize a disaster has happened unless they see it on the news.

For any business, the idea of a disaster that shuts down operations is horrific. But, as history has proven, no business is immune from a catastrophe. Cloud hosting can help safeguard any organization in the event the unthinkable should occur.

Cloud Washing 101: How to Determine if a Solution is Truly Cloud-Based

Cloud computing is all the rage, revolutionizing computing as we know it. For hardware and software manufacturers, this means they must find a way to keep up with the growing trend toward cloud hosting…or risk being left behind.

As a result, many vendors are labeling their solutions as “cloud-based” without altering anything about that offering. Some vendors are changing a few things, but is it enough?

Brainwashing in the Cloud

Since the word “cloud” is the buzzword of the decade, some feel that business are trying to entice consumers into buying their products by labeling them as cloud-based. A new term, “cloud washing” has emerged as a result, taking a play on the word “brainwashing.” Consumers are being warned about the practice so that they can ensure they truly are getting something new if they choose to invest in a new product.

Most official definitions of cloud computing distinguish it as a service that is accessed over the internet. However, many software vendors have taken liberties with this, defining any product that is available online as “cloud-based.” If a software’s download resides on a website, for instance, the company may call itself cloud-based in order to seem progressive.

Blurred Lines

One example of the blurring of lines is Adobe’s Creative Cloud, where users are required to download software to use the products. Documents can be saved in the cloud, however, and downloads will be managed from Adobe’s servers. This new model allows Adobe to control licensing from its own servers. In large part, the Adobe Creative Cloud is cloud-based, but a user won’t be able to access and work with his Adobe files online, using any device. Microsoft’s Office 365 employs a similar type of cloud-local hybrid.

In upcoming years, look for the term “cloud” to disappear as online storage becomes the norm. In the meantime, it’s important that consumers understand when a piece of software is truly cloud-based to avoid being cloud washed.

Reliability, Uptime Most Important Factor in Cloud Hosting, Survey Finds

As more companies move operations to the Cloud, both executives and IT professionals at those companies want to ensure a smooth transition. The majority of U.S. businesses are now using some form of Cloud computing, with more businesses than ever using Cloud-based website and storage hosting.

For most of these businesses, reliability is a top priority, with companies fully realizing the importance of 24/7 uptime and data backup in the event of a disaster. A study of UK senior-level IT professionals published on CloudTweaks provided insight to the issues concerning IT management today. When it comes to Cloud hosting, companies are primarily interested in reliability and uptime. Of the 104 people who responded, more than half said those two issues were of primary concerned. Security was important to 22.12 percent of respondents, while flexibility and scalability was important to 15.38 percent of those who responded. The lowest priority, coming in at 7 percent, was price.

Perhaps most interesting about the survey was what experts say in reading between the lines. Almost half of those polled did not mention reliability and uptime as most important, which an executive for the company hosting the company believes indicates the confidence business consumers now have in managed hosting providers. Reliability and uptime are now taken for granted by many, he believes.

As reliability becomes the norm for businesses taking advantage of Cloud hosting, service will become a more important factor. Reliability is, after all, what most consumers expect from service providers in every industry, from plumbers to cable companies. As this becomes expected, consumers begin to place a higher priority on the issues like the friendliness of customer service staff and a rapid response time on the rare occasion an issue does arise.

For your business, this is good news. It means the industry has reached the point where networks are strong enough to handle varying workloads. This allows businesses to focus on their own daily duties, knowing their networks are strong and thriving.

CFOs and CIOs can keep up with Business’ growth with Cloud Computing, discovers Deloitte report

The latest issue of CFO Insights from Deloitte investigates the role of cloud computing and focuses on the benefits and decision-making concerns offered by transitioning to this new technology environment.The assessment from Deloitte’s report addresses technology decision-makers, notably the CIOs and CFOs, who will soon need to face the reality that they need to transition their organization’s computing technology, it services, and data to “the cloud”. As cloud computing technology attains wider usage, more businesses will soon have to deal with the decision to shift from an on-premises technology setting to a cloud based one.The idea of cloud computing has prevailed for a long time. The basic premise behind it is that the business can outsource daily management of resources on a need-only basis, identical to buying utility services, such as water and power. However, one crucial factor is that the cloud computing resources are delivered over the Internet.

The Deloitte report underlines the need to have a productive working relationship between the CFO and CIO. The decision to embrace cloud computing is broader in scope than just the information technology department. The CFO can strategize cloud computing to execute financial objectives, and at the same time create a risk intelligent culture. The CIO can increase the visibility of the technology department as an esteemed part of the organization.

Cloud resources can broadly be classified into these four categories: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Most individuals assume SaaS to be the only cloud computing resource, which involves the administering of software applications on demand. The software applications can range from email, backup and file storage solutions to customer relationship management (CRM) and financial applications.

However, there are other use cases for cloud computing. For example, PaaS is used a software development platform to develop new applications, whereas IaaS is used an on-demand hardware resource platform.

The Deloitte report advocates the introspection of relative costs and benefits of different cloud resources before taking the decision. Most organizations reserve the use of cloud computing to low-risk projects, or tasks ideally unsuitable for on-premises technology.

The most cited benefit by various CFOs and CIOs in their interviews is the flexibility that cloud computing offers; it can scale and react to technology changes very quickly. Significant reduction in infrastructure costs and IT support staff requirements are also a few of the other benefits cited.

However, the CFOs and CIOs also raised a few concerns in their interviews regarding the safety and reliability of using cloud computing. Is the data safe? Where is it stored? Is the data backed up? What should a business do when it needs to shift from one cloud technology provider to another? These are all the questions that are asked frequently an organization before embracing cloud computing.

Nevertheless, the CFOs and CIOs also reported that cloud vendors are more likely to provide higher levels of performance and better security. The vendors have to perform as their business depends on it; if they fail to provide a good service, then they will lose all their clients and reputability.

The report recommends the business to assess its technology needs in the context of its purpose and needs. As the business changes and evolves, the technology also needs to keep up with it. By evaluating the business’ administrative concerns and how the availability of cloud technology will influence the organization, the CFOs and CIOs can make sure that their business transits fluently into a cloud computing environment.

If you’re interested in learning how can help your business save money by utilizing cloud services, be sure to reference our cloud computing consulting services.

Google Compute Engine What You Need to Know

In June 2012, Google announced that it was making a cloud computing service.  So how does it work and what can it do for you?

The Basics

The Compute Engine is Google’s answer to Amazon’s EC2 web service.  Essentially both are cloud infrastructure services.  What that means is that Google and Amazon are offering digital resources: disk space and computing power.  Instead of buying a dozen fancy servers, you can run your network off theirs.  These networks are all about centralization.  If you have offices all over the place, they don’t need to have their own major IT hardware, it’s all under Google’s purview.


Initial beta testing reviews show that Google has stepped up to the challenge.  According to Gigaom, GCE is about four times faster in booting virtual machines and about twice as fast at writing ephemeral disks.  Like all Google products, the pricing will range from free to premium.  The highest pricing tier will cost $150 a month.  Application hosting will be free for the first 28 instance hours (reset daily) for on-demand front-end instances and 8 cents an hour after that.

An IT Guy’s Guide to Buying a Laptop

In this go-go world of ours, it seems like a laptop is now an essential for the small business.  Open any Sunday circular and you’ll be bombarded with ads for laptops.  So what to spend your hard earned money on?

Laptop vs Tablet

There are more and more crossovers between laptops and tablets.  For example, the new Windows tablet and the Asus Transformer both have the option to use a keyboard.  However, they still cater to two different crowds.  Tablets tend to be lighter and smaller since they’re designed to be really used with two thumbs or one hand.  This means there is less space for things like memory and processing power.  So a tablet would suite someone who’s constantly on the go and never to really has a home base.  Otherwise, the laptop still has the advantage and processing power and versatility.

The RAM has touched the wall

For the typical user 4GB of RAM is enough.  RAM stands for random access memory.  It’s essentially the amount of resources that your company has to do the tasks at hand.  Lots of deals in circulars advertise refurbished laptops with 2GB of RAM.  In this day and age, it’s not enough for a smooth running experience.

SSD is the way to go

SSD stands for solid state drive.  Unlike older hard drive technology, SSD has no moving parts.  This means that it lasts longer and is quicker.  Laptops with SSD tend to wake from sleep faster and have shorter boot up times.  The tradeoff is that they have less storage space.  However, with cloud storage being all the rage, 128GB of space should be plenty.

What about the processors?

I wrote this article under the assumption that the average small business owner uses their computer for excel, web browsing, and word processing.  Though if you business relies on photo editing or movie making, then a more powerful CPU or a dedicated graphics card would not go amiss.  However, the average user isn’t going to need the extra power or want the added cost.

Is Google Going to be Everyone’s IT Department?


Article first published as Is Google Going to be Everyone’s IT Department? on Technorati.

You know those computers from the 1950s you’ve seen pictures of? The ones that filled whole walls and ran on punch cards?

Well, to the 14-year-old who you’re going to be hiring in 10 years, that’s kind of how the computer setup in the standard modern office looks. From the Windows operating systems on the screens to the computer towers set awkwardly on the floor below the desks, the whole thing seems absurdly clunky.

Of course, right now, that 14-year-old’s use of technology centers on text messages and Xbox games, but when she joins the workforce in a few years, she’ll expect a work machine that exudes power while taking up almost no space.

Google is doing its best to make that vision a reality with the Chromebox and Chromebook, machines that are not so much computers as portals into Google-land.

After years of racing to give businesses and individuals bigger hard drives with more memory, Google and other technology companies have decided that’s not what we need at all. Instead, the expectation behind the Chrome devices is that we’re online all the time, so we can work and play in the cloud.

With the Chromebox or Chromebook, you have instant access to everything you’ve saved on Google Drive, which Google hopes will be all your documents. The company markets its Google Apps to small businesses as a way to replace their servers with effortless cloud storage, documents that offer access to multiple employees, and shared calendars. Of course, Gmail and Google Chat are also part of the package.

Aside from getting rid of all that old hardware, the attractiveness of this model lies partly in escaping the hassles of administering your own IT systems. Google archives your documents and email based on your retention settings and offers options to help keep you protected from audits and lawsuits. It also makes sure your data is backed up and that the roof above your server isn’t leaking.

It also makes your documents accessible from any device, which means that in 10 years that 14-year-old will be able to use whatever technology is current then (Computer watch? iNecklace?) to work from anywhere.