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Solving Your Cloud Conversion Confusion

From CIOs to CFOs, there’s one question on the minds of most of them when tasked with whether or not they should migrate their networks to the cloud. The biggest struggle? Cost. No doubt, if you’re reading this post, the topic of cloud computing in your company is probably on your mind. If you’re read the news lately, you know it’s difficult to ignore the prevalence of cloud advertising. But is the move a smart one that can save your company money?

In this post, we’ll outline different aspects of the cloud to consider when trying to assess whether to make the move or stick with your current infrastructure. First, you need to understand the technology. For example, many different types of cloud services exist.

Public clouds are obviously accessible by anyone. They can provide workload applications to your users such as email or provide communications for your staff collaborating on multi-user projects.

Private cloud environments are typically best for companies looking to centralize their networks while also keeping out unauthorized users. On-premises clouds are hosted at your location and exist behind your firewalls for enhanced security. Off-site environments still offer you security and privacy but are hosted by a third-party offsite providers.

Another form called hybrid offers a combination of private and public environments. Often companies that provide services to customers yet need to maintain parts of their network on a more secure system choose a hybrid formation.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) usually provides the lowest overall cost. But what does it do? Think of IaaS as an outsourced provider which host your hardware and software offsite. They also offer server storage and other components necessary for your users to perform their daily work.

The benefit of using an IaaS platform is it’s highly scalable. Thus, as your organization and resource demand grows, so does your IaaS plan. Most IaaS plans offer you a per-user rate which often is by the hour, week and even in some instances by the month. Essentially, it’s a pure pay-as-you-go service so there’s no worry of capital expenditures other than your service fee.

Two providers we use for many of our IaaS clients is Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Another type of cloud exists called Software as a Service (Saas). In this structure, your company uses software products from a provider rather than going the traditional route of buying one software license per machine.

SaaS is ideal for organizations with many users that need to use identical versions of a software product. Think global when you consider SaaS as it provides your company with the power to update your user software versions as well as manage updates for your entire network. SaaS offers full services over the Internet while putting maintenance and update management in the hands of the vendor providing your company SaaS.

Cloud confusion can be difficult if your company officers aren’t fully aware of the technology demand your organization needs on a daily basis. You should first pinpoint your requirements by evaluating your resources.

 

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5 Predictions in 2015 of Cloud IT And Why You Need to Know

Without a doubt, 2014 was a great year for cloud. I’d like to provide five predictions for the upcoming year and why you need to know. If you’re considering moving to the cloud, it’s a good time to be a customer with new services from AWS, Google and Microsoft.

  1. More demand in the market for cloud services.

Per a recent Gartner forecast, the Software as a Service (SaaS) market will grow at a yearly growth rate of 20.2%! With this type of estimated growth, it is easy to see why so many SMB’s are ready to move to the cloud.

  1. Data security overtakes device security.

BYOD is now a part of everyday work culture. Employers and employees want to work unrestricted and devices are being replaced quickly while the value of corporate data spreads longer and connected devices reduce the necessity for device-local data storage. Companies will turn their focus from securing endpoint devices to securing data on its way to and from the cloud and being stored in the cloud in order to guarantee a smooth user experience.

  1. Security, security and security…

Many web articles discuss concerns over the security of data in the cloud as a major factor of cloud adoption. Over time, most companies recognize it is near impossible to have foolproof on-premise (company owned servers or data centers) and that no cloud is. Once accurate expectations are made, companies need to focus on evaluating and mitigating risks intelligently.

  1. Increased hybrid cloud implementation.

As more companies adopt cloud, hybrid cloud implementation will be the norm. Why? As C level executives develop cloud strategies, organizations benefit from the convenience of the cloud business model and attain the performance of on-premises solutions. Due to the complexity of today’s environments, it would prove to be extremely difficult to move everything across-the-board to the cloud.

  1. Cost effective clouds.

The return on investment for computing projects ranges significantly.  After deployment, cloud value is easy to define. In other cases, cloud needs to be considered a long-term investment and aging hardware and servers can be factored as part of the value cloud computing will truly bring to your business.

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Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014-2015

Mobile and cloud hosting services are moving technology in new directions in 2014, as an infographic from ComputerSupport.com points out. Based on a report presented by Gartner at the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo, the infographic reveals ten clear strategic technology trends impacting businesses and consumers in 2014.

Mobile Device Diversity and Management

The rapid adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in many workplaces has brought new challenges for security professionals. 2014 is the year professionals will realize the risks related to mobile devices and strengthen policies to address these risks.

Mobile Apps and Applications

Gartner predicts that apps will continue to grow in popularity and applications will start to dwindle as users go increasingly mobile. For developers, the push toward HTML5 and the browser as a delivery mechanism will change the development environment.

The Internet of Everything

For both businesses and consumers, internet connectivity will go beyond devices to include wearable items, household appliances, field equipment, and much more.

Hybrid Cloud and IT as a Service Broker

In its report, Gartner stresses the importance of bringing personal clouds and external private cloud services. Cloud environments should be set up with a hybrid future in mind.

Client/Cloud Architecture

The architecture of client/cloud computing is changing, with the client serving as the application on a PC or mobile device and the cloud requiring scalability. Applications must be able to run on multiple devices.

The Era of Personal Cloud

Thanks to the emerging personal cloud, services will become more important than services. While equipment will still be important, they will merely be a conduit to the apps and data a user needs.

Software Defined Anything

Known as SDx, Software Defined Anything encapsulates the networking, data centers, storage, and storage networks that make up technology today. SDx calls for improved standards for cloud computing and development.

Web-Scale IT

Calling upon the experience of large cloud providers like Amazon and Google, Gartner created a term called “Web-Scale IT.” This term refers to the need for enterprises to examine the IT value chain for improvements in every area across the organization.

Smart Machines

Devices will become more sophisticated through the year 2020 as machines like IBM’s Watson show more human qualities. Gartner predicts this smart machine era will be among the most disruptive in IT history.

3-D Printing

2014 will be the year mainstream 3-D adoption begins to grow, as the number of units shipped this year should grow by 75 percent. Gartner predicts this will be followed by double growth in 2015.

Public, Private and Hybrid Clouds: The Difference (and when it matters)

A decision maker at an SMB is trying to keep things simple (or at least no more complicated than they have to be). Saving money for outsourced services gets everyone’s attention, and the promise of Cloud Computing undoubtedly gets yours. While most of the technical details are delegated to your hard working CIO, Directors, and foot soldiers, there are some concepts it’s good to have an overview of – because of their effect on your data security and your bottom line.There are three categories of Cloud Computing Environments you’ll hear your IT staff talking about – a Public Cloud, a Private Cloud or a Hybrid Cloud. The differences between the three involve the capital investment of each, and the data security level provided by each.

The Public Cloud

According to TechTarget, A public cloud is “one based on the standard cloud computing model, in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet”. In the Public Cloud, all the infrastructure and maintenance are provided off site. This is the ideal choice for most SMBs.

Advantages:  A Public Cloud:

  • Takes all of the overhead of IT operations off of your shoulders.
  • Simplifies accounting in that you pay fees instead of overhead and effort involved in Capital Expenditures.
  • Increased demand is simply a matter of purchasing more bandwidth and/or services. For example, If you need more capacity during the Christmas buying season, you can purchase more capacity during the season (as opposed to purchasing equipment and systems that must have capacity that is not needed for a majority of the year).

Disadvantage:  You are using shared resources with other organizations, which makes a Public Cloud less secure than a Private Cloud.  However, It is important to note that the resources of a Cloud Vendor are far greater than a typical SMB, and that the environment of your Cloud Vendor is still more secure than an environment in the traditional IT space

In short, a Public Cloud is ideal when:

  • a standalone IT Operation represents major overhead to your business,
  • You use standard applications (Such as Microsoft Office),
  • You use Cloud applications by major vendors (such as Adobe Creative Cloud or SalesForce), or:
  • You do a lot of collaborative projects over a disbursed area.

Private Clouds

A Private Cloud is one where a Cloud Infrastructure is used by a single organization. It provides the most security, but requires that the organization have the resources to maintain the environment (and typically an SMB is turning to the Cloud to avoid that overhead!). Recently, Public Cloud Vendors have started offering Private Cloud Services at a premium– i.e., Cloud Environments which are segregated from their public services.

Because of the extra overhead and/or premium costs, Private Clouds are only desirable if you are in an industry with stringent security or data privacy demands, or your business is by nature financial data, intellectual property, or being a custodian of either. Consider leasing Private Cloud Services from your vendor if you have a genuine need for top level security, but don’t have the resources to support it in house.

Hybrid Clouds

A Hybrid Cloud is one that, as the name implies, have elements of a Public Cloud. For example, you have Financial Data you want to maintain in a Private Cloud, but also have collaborative efforts for which you want to use a Public Cloud. Large corporations with vertical markets are potential candidates for a hybrid cloud; a typical SMB would not have a need or have the resources to support one.

All businesses have unique needs, and you know your business better than anyone. The right Cloud Service Provider works with you to find the best solution for your unique situation.

Will a Hybrid Cloud Solution Work for Your Business?

As businesses work hard to decide between a public and private cloud solution, industry experts are noting the emergency of a trend. Many businesses are choosing a combination of both technologies to enjoy the benefits of each.

What is Hybrid?

Several studies are touting the popularity of hybrid clouds, stating businesses’ desire to maintain control over their infrastructure while still utilizing the affordability and reliability offered by cloud service providers. With a hybrid cloud, businesses outsource some operations to the cloud, while still maintaining on-site storage of data and/or applications.

Many businesses are already using cloud services, if only through apps supplied through third-party vendors. But concerns about security and compliance have some businesses uncomfortable with entrusting their entire infrastructures with a cloud service provider, even when that provider has strict policies in place to safeguard that data.

Understanding the Challenges

A hybrid solution isn’t without its challenges, though. When data is housed in two separate places, while still working in cooperation with each other, incompatibilities may occasionally occur. It’s important that businesses seeking a hybrid solution pick the right service provider to ensure both environments will work in harmony.

For businesses that deal in applications that work better in an on-premise setting, a hybrid solution can allow those businesses to utilize cloud services while still maintaining a stable environment. Eventually, that business may consider upgrading to a newer version of that software, but in the meantime, a hybrid solution will allow that company to continue to operate as it has been.

A hybrid cloud can give a business a smooth transition into the cloud, allowing them to gradually ease in to the technology. But the hybrid cloud can be a good long-term solution, as well. Before a business makes a final decision, experts can review its infrastructure to determine the best architecture for its data and applications.