Category: Cloud Computing

Cloud has the ability to become the foundation of a business, especially small businesses. In this digital age no matter the size of your business, one just can’t survive without an online presence. Cloud is cost effective for small businesses and requires little to no investment. The entire idea of having an off site infrastructure became a trend in 2008, while nowadays it has become the groundwork of many IT companies.

Flexible and Convenient
There was a time when placing an infrastructure for an entire organization required a lot of time with an extremely slow ROI. Comparing this to cloud computing, the very same infrastructure with the same resources and size can be up and functional in less than an hour!
The ideal cloud solution for small businesses can be Platform as a Service (PaaS).  Small businesses that sell web services can productively utilize PaaS. Install an access application seamlessly without making investments on in-house servers. Pre-configured apps are easily available a click away providing leverage to your business, saving considerable time as you prepare to go online.
The cloud service also offers great flexibility should the small business plan to increase the size of their infrastructure while avoiding any downtime. Such flexibility allows small businesses to mold the servers according to their needs. This includes the ability to create, re-create, upgrade, or even compromise servers with minimum costs.

Cost Effective
Cloud services can remove and/or reduce considerable costs of various elements relevant to a small busines business:
• License fees
• Training costs
• Infrastructure costs
• Hosting costs
• Redundancy costs

Cloud Utility
The main benefit of the cloud is the abundance of storage capacity. Store anything from documents, pictures, videos or any other form of data you can think of. This includes an added functionality which is the niche of cloud computing, the share feature. Share any file with anyone anywhere, while the data stays securely backed up on your servers.
In other words cloud technology not only lowers costs, but increases your productivity as well by streamlining business processes. Many young businesses are implementing cloud into their businesses giving them an upper hand over competitors. Since not everyone has caught up to this latest technology, doing the same will allow your own get ahead as well. The ability to auto update without licensing issues, negating the need of IT staff and equipment as well as reducing maintenance costs makes installing cloud services a no brainer.

By now we have all heard of cloud computing, but there are so many half-truths, sales pitches and flat out lies regarding the cloud. With all the misinformation out there, how do we know what to believe? Here are the top 5 myths about cloud computing with honest explanations debunking the claims.
Seeing past these myths is critical to make the right decisions about if migrating to a cloud solution is right for your organization.

1. The Cloud is Not Secure – This is probably the most prevalent of all the myths about cloud computing. To put it simply, not all clouds are created the equal. A cloud is only as secure as the team of Engineers who designed and manage it. With that said, having a team experienced Systems Architects and Security Engineers design a highly redundant infrastructure is typically out of the budget for most small to medium size businesses (SMB). The cloud has allowed SMBs to have access to such systems. Pick your cloud vendor wisely, do your research and make sure their data center is SSAE 16 Compliant. This is a good start and you know that their infrastructure has been validated by an independent third party for security and redundancy.

2. The Cloud is the Perfect Solution – Well nothing is perfect. While the cloud can solve many problems and is quickly replacing premise-based computing, it is not without shortcomings. Namely, legacy software. Older versions of software typically do not operate well in the cloud and often require a great deal of manipulation to get working. The cloud is new, and employees are often resistant to change. Even if a new system is better, has more features and costs less, you will not go without your share of complaints.

3. Cloud Computing is a Fad – If you hear this from somebody, they probably have their pager and fax number on their business card.

4. The Cloud is Not Reliable – To go back to my first point, all cloud are not created equal. The design of any cloud is rooted in redundancy, so it is likely more reliable than the average in house server room. The level of reliability is all up to the team behind it, so make sure to do your research first and make sure the cloud service provider maintains a stellar uptime record.

5. The Biggest Benefit of the Cloud is Lower Costs – While there are potentially huge cost savings when moving to the cloud, that is not always the case. The biggest benefits typically are the ease of management, lowered administrative overhead, increased productivity and auto-scaling of systems. The flexibility gained by utilizing the cloud is often the biggest benefit and indirectly can result in a lowering your bottom line.

To sum it up, the cloud is here to stay and is a viable solution for all size businesses. Make sure you get the real story on the costs of the cloud for your organization, migration has costs and can impact productivity, you don’t want a whole new set of problems. Do your homework and understand all your options. A good cloud service provider will ask about your organization objectives and work with you to design a custom solution.

Remember the cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If you are interested in learning more about cloud computing for your organization, call us at 949.631.7000. We help all size organizations move to the cloud. The consultation is free.

Are your IT systems in-house, but you’re wondering if cloud computing can benefit your business?  Here are 8 signs that your organization is ready for the cloud.

1. Monthly Maintenance Costs Getting Out of Control – Is your IT infrastructure taking too much time or costing too much money to keep up? With a cloud solution all these overheads become the responsibility of your IT support company.

2. Aging Systems – Are your systems starting show signs of instability? Is a system crash becoming an all too regular event or are you worried about what would happen if one did happen? Cloud solutions utilize the latest hardware and software, which have built-in redundancy.  This ultra redundant configuration allows for regular system upgrades with no downtime.

3. Disaster Recovery and Preparedness – Are you certain that if your current IT systems failed that your business would survive? Do you have a documented plan of action on how to recover in the event of a disaster or total system failure? Cloud solutions are designed to be highly fault tolerant and globally available.

4. Upgrade Costs are Sky High – Is the price to replace your server so high that you can’t justify the upfront capital expenditure? A cloud solution requires no investment in hardware upfront, you pay monthly for only the services you use.

5. Remote Access and Mobility – Are you in need of remote access to your systems and data? Do you have an existing system that is more of a hassle than it is worth and resulting in lost productivity for your mobile workforce? Cloud solutions were designed from the ground up for remote access and mobility.

6. Backups – Could you use a better backup solution for routine tasks such as file restores and pulling from archives? Do you need a longer retention period or off-site storage for compliance? A cloud solution typically bundles a backup strategy as part of the solution.

7. Security is a Concern – It’s not uncommon for workers to save data to their computers or worse, removable storage devices that get lost. With a cloud solution, the data is securely available from anywhere. There is just no need to keep it anywhere else.

8. Go Green – Instead of having to run a host of servers and services in a climate controlled environment with all the power consumption considerations, your systems are moved to the cloud service provider whose systems will be streamlined and more efficient.

At d2 Business Solutions, we help all size organizations migrate to the cloud.
Interested? Contact us at 949.631.7000. We are happy to discuss your options and the consultation is free.

On April 14, Google formally acknowledged via a Terms of Service update that Gmail messages, both incoming and outgoing, are now being automatically scanned for the purpose of creating targeted ads. If that alarms you, keep reading!

Last month, a U.S. judge ruled that the courts would not combine the various lawsuits accusing Google of violating privacy rights into a single class action suit. Why are users suing Google over privacy rights? Because the company now admits that it scans the messages of its 425 million active email users – not just when the messages are in transit, but also when they are stored on Google servers. Google argues that users, who agree to terms of service “implicitly” (if not passively), should recognize this practice as part of the email delivery process.

Gmail’s Terms of Service now state, “Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

Users have a history of rolling with the changes when it comes to Google’s increasingly looming presence in their private lives – but naturally, some will decide that the company has finally gone one step too far. Those users, specifically business users, will need to find a new email support service –preferably, one that commits to a “zero knowledge” policy. They can find it in outlook2go.

outlook2go is a hosted Microsoft Exchange email service that caters to small and mid-sized businesses. The company offers three service tiers, with plans that start at only $6.95 a month per user. The highest tier includes HIPAA and FINRA compliance and encrypted email delivery – plus, the zero knowledge policy that Gmail refuses to offer.

For businesses that want to leave Gmail behind, outlook2go is offering the opportunity to try its product for free. You can request a 30-day, risk free trial of this hosted Microsoft Exchange email service by signing up at http://outlook2go.com.

Article originally posted on outlook2go blog – Google’s New Privacy Policy, Users Seeking Alternatives for Hosted Email

The Blank Stare
When I speak to corporate audiences, I encounter few professionals who understand cloud computing inside and out. They’re called information technology (IT) employees, and at the average company, they only represent a microcosm of the workforce. As for the remaining departments who sit in the meeting, it is fairly typical for me to be met with their blank stares when I delve into topics that address the business they work for shifting its data over to the cloud. Inevitably, someone near the back will timidly raise her hand after a few minutes and ask the question that is on the minds of 80% of the people in the room: “So…what is cloud computing, exactly?”

“I’m glad you asked,” is my standard response before I begin explaining – and, really, I am. For too long, companies have left employees in the dark about where their data goes. That is not helpful to anyone, for a number of reasons. More on those in a moment. For now, let’s just answer the question by addressing what the cloud is.

What is the Cloud?
First, let’s define what it isn’t. For the purposes of computing, the cloud is not a physical place in the sky – nor is cloud computing a singular method or service. Instead, cloud computing is a set of computing concepts, and the cloud is the informal expression we use to describe them. What are those concepts? I call them the “3 I’s of the Cloud.” Every company that is on the cloud receives services based on these three “I” concepts:

Interconnectivity – Many computers (a cloud’s “network”) are connected via the Internet. A cloud host, which is a third party cloud services provider with its own servers, manages the computers belonging to its network members from a remote data center. This data center is what facilitates cloud-based services, such as the offsite backup of data. For companies that use the cloud, backing up data offsite (away from their location) eliminates the worry of losing important company data in the event of a system failure, power outage or weather disaster.

If you have ever heard a television or radio advertisement for a cloud services provider, you know that the #1 selling point these providers emphasize is their ability to offer companies disaster recovery solutions. That isn’t mere hype; disaster recovery is a valuable service that the cloud makes possible.

In any event, the interconnectivity of the network is what keeps cloud services providers on their toes, maintaining the uptime of the network and allowing services like disaster recovery to happen. Because a cloud hosting service provider will work hard to make sure his network doesn’t go down, the interconnectivity of the cloud should be viewed as one of its strongest assets.

Infrastructure – In order to maintain a manageable IT budget, members of the host’s network rely on the cloud to provide the IT infrastructure for their respective companies. Rather than breaking the bank building an onsite data center, those companies can rely on the cloud for the raw computing capacity needed to create, store and share data internally.

On average, the cost of depending on a cloud services provider for infrastructure is 74% less than the cost of developing the infrastructure and operations force in-house.(1) That is one clear cost comparison that makes the cloud worth exploring.

Intangibles – In a word, software. The cloud can be used to deliver one or more software applications for companies to effectively manage their workforces: email, calendars, data and document sharing, spreadsheets, etc. Nearly any IT service a company needs to manage itself can be delivered in the cloud. When a cloud host provides these software-based intangibles, that is defined as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Cloud computing is all about delivering business offerings as a service; software is just one of three.

This is a question that goes through many users mind when they are trying to make a decision between online file storage and other physical forms of storage. The truth is that online storage has so many benefits over the physical storage. This makes online storage the best for any important and high priority documents you have. Online storage is unlimited since the information you want to store is kept in a cloud and not in physical storage which has limited space. Therefore, you are free to keep all your files for as long as you need, no matter their size.

Online File StorageAnother benefit of online file storage is that it is backed up on a remote device. When you store your files in a physical hard drive, if anything happens to it, then you lose all the documents. For example, if it is formatted by mistake or destroyed by fire, water or other physical factors, then you lose everything. However, with online storage, you have your files stored in back up devices. This means there is no risk of losing any of the important information you have stored. This makes online storage an excellent option for storing important files that you cannot afford to lose.

Cloud file service integrates easily with existing systems so that you can easily access your stored files. This means that you can access the files right from your computer whenever you need to use them. They have ease of access as well so you can access them from anywhere. So whether you are on your desktop computer, working on your laptop or on the move with your mobile phone, you can still access your important documents. Cloud file service providers ensure that you get free on boarding and technical support that you have access to for life.

The cloud file service also has an administrative console to ensure that only authorized persons have access to the files. This offers you an unparalleled level of privacy and security. In addition, you can always store your sensitive documents using cloud service since they are encrypted. The encryption used is high level to ensure that no one else can gain access to or read your private documents. Therefore, cloud file sharing is a useful tool for communication with your contacts without worrying about eavesdroppers. There is a clean dashboard interface which makes it easy to use even if you are not a computer expert.

Cloud file sharing is also beneficial to you because of its reliability. There is continuous uptime meaning that you always have access to your files. This is important to people who work twenty four seven and require constant access to their files without fail. You also get to save money since you do not have to spend additionally on on-site hardware to support the system. Therefore, when you are looking for reliable storage, you need to sign up for professional cloud file sharing. This ensures that you get the most out of the service and benefit from all the above features.

Before choosing online file storage you may want to know how it is advantageous over other types of physical storage. One of the reasons why online storage is better than physical storage is that it is unlimited. Since physical storage is limited, you may need to keep deleting old files to make room for new ones. This can be very difficult if the old files are important as well and you may need them later. However, with online file storage, you can keep all your files both old and new without the risk of running out of storage space for future items.

Cloud File Sharing

Cloud File Sharing

Another benefit of online file storage is that it is backed up on a remote device. When you store your files in a physical hard drive, if anything happens to it, then you lose all the documents. For example, if it is formatted by mistake or destroyed by fire, water or other physical factors, then you lose everything. However, with online storage, you have your files stored in back up devices. This means there is no risk of losing any of the important information you have stored. This makes online storage an excellent option for storing important files that you cannot afford to lose.

Cloud file service integrates easily with existing systems so that you can easily access your stored files. This means that you can access the files right from your computer whenever you need to use them. They have ease of access as well so you can access them from anywhere. So whether you are on your desktop computer, working on your laptop or on the move with your mobile phone, you can still access your important documents. Cloud file service providers ensure that you get free on boarding and technical support that you have access to for life.

The cloud file service also has an administrative console to ensure that only authorized persons have access to the files. This offers you an unparalleled level of privacy and security. In addition, you can always store your sensitive documents using cloud service since they are encrypted. The encryption used is high level to ensure that no one else can gain access to or read your private documents. Therefore, cloud file sharing is a useful tool for communication with your contacts without worrying about eavesdroppers. There is a clean dashboard interface which makes it easy to use even if you are not a computer expert.

Another advantage of cloud file sharing is that it is reliable. There is no downtime when you are unable to access your important files. This sharing options ensures that you have unmatched uptime so that you can access your files at any time of the day. There is also no need for onsite hardware when you are using cloud sharing. This is because everything is hosted in the cloud. For you to get the best cloud file sharing, you need to ensure that you get these services from professionals who have the best features on their systems.

When it comes to launching a startup, where does the seed stage money go? It goes into funding resources: office space, programmers, developers, engineers, designers, and business plan writers. The trend that is emerging, which has worked for numerous successful startups, is for entrepreneurs to skip seed stage VCs and tap into collectives instead. A collective is a pool of resource providers that invests in startups – but instead of investing capital, they invest their services and the other resources they have access to.

seedhatcherySo instead of giving an entrepreneurial startup founder $100,000, the collective gives him office space. The programmer in the group writes code for him, and the designer helps with the layout. Another member works alongside the entrepreneur to write the business plan that will be presented to the multi-million dollar VCs in the growth (Series A) round. Everyone in the collective has something to contribute, somewhere.

Ultimately, the resources provided by the collective are used to create a minimum viable product (MVP) to present to the growth investors. In exchange, the collective owns a small percentage of the company; it collects that equity when the business turns a profit, or when the founder sells. For the collective, it’s a fairly low risk investment: If the company fails, each member only loses whatever time was devoted to providing resources. For the startup, it’s a win-win; there are fewer costly decisions to be made in the initial stages, because all the necessary services were provided at no cost.

There will always be a demand for cash, but let’s be honest: Cash is only a means to an end. What every startup really needs is resources. Collectives such as Cogent Collective can provide those resources that will impact a new business: services, space, software. If your startup is in need of resources, reach out to them.

Article originally written for BizHack.IT Investing More than Cash: The New Demand for Resources 

Unfortunately, this is not the same as the summertime “crush” of your youth. The summertime crash is the network crash that occurs for one in three businesses, when hot weather and inadequate software leads to networks going down for long, long periods of time. For these businesses, “downtime” is not just an expression; it’s a reality.

The companies that experience this are typically businesses that insist on retaining an in-house IT department, but can’t afford to update their software – and so, the hapless IT staff just plows on in their outdated data center, struggling to get the network back up on a weekly basis. Sounds like good times, doesn’t it? And for the owner, it leaves little room for expanding anything outside of the IT department because of the budgetary drain. Yes, the summertime crash is a virtual Death Valley on company resources.

Here’s what it needs: a cool drink of water, fresh from the cloud. We’re using a lot of metaphors here, but you get the idea. A company that experiences too many summertime crashes needs to consider outsourcing its IT department and migrating its infrastructure to the cloud – pronto! When this happens, it’s amazing how much life is breathed into the business. Because there are no more constant network outages to contend with, the minimal IT staff that is needed can attend to truly important business (like the help desk. Unfortunately, we’ll always need them for that!). And typically, the boss has more money to work with than ever.

One recent survey revealed that 46% of companies are virtualizing their data centers, and that by 2015, the number may be as high as 59%. What that means is that outsourcing IT, virtualizing data and storing in the cloud is becoming the norm – and it’s time to get on board if you have not yet already. It’s the best way to avoid the summertime crash; in fact, it may be the only way.

Don’t Fall Prey to the Summertime Crash! was originally posted on the d2business.com blog

Many experts have made the case for the virtual desktop quite successfully. But to the novice, who may still be trying to get a grasp of cloud computing, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is an understandably elusive concept. So, let’s break this down. 1.) What is desktop virtualization, and 2.) How does it compare to cloud computing?

What is Desktop Virtualization?

Desktop virtualization involves using virtual machines to allow multiple network subscribers to maintain individualized desktops on a single, centrally located computer or server (in a data center). No matter where the users are located (they could be geographically scattered all over the country), they are connected to the central machine that is virtualizing their data, powered by a proprietary local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), or the Internet.

Is VDI Cloud Computing?

If VDI sounds a lot like cloud computing, that is because cloud computing is one approach for the delivery of virtualization services. VDI can be delivered by other mechanisms than cloud computing, but the cloud is the most common virtualization delivery technology in use today. Because they are distinct services, though, the two terms should probably not be used interchangeably.

Why Does Hosted VDI Make More Sense?

From a business standpoint, VDI just makes sense. The total cost of ownership benefits are irrefutable when paired with all the other efficiencies that desktop virtualization makes possible. But it is important to understand the difference between taking advantage of hosted virtualization (where the entire infrastructure is already in place), and building your own virtualization infrastructure (we’ll call it “DIY VDI”). A VDI host will have all the features, functions and resources in place to store your data virtually, while DIY VDI (that’s really a mouthful, isn’t it?) requires you to expand upon your already costly traditional data storage environment.

If you do your own virtualization, you’ll need to keep the physical machine that cost a fortune, rely on a single operating system and applications that are tied to that physical machine, and your applications that are also tied to that single operating system and machine. Everything, from end-user experience to performance, will depend on that machine. In other words, your entire business depends on it. Sound like a good idea? We didn’t think so.

A business can experience far more benefits from taking advantage of a hosted VDI service. Call it the cloud if you like, but the bottom line is that you don’t have to maintain a frightening data center of your own. It’s all taken care of for you – virtually.

Hosted VDI for Business: It Just Makes More Sense was originally posted on the d2business.com blog


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Updated August 2016 - Matt Dubois