18
Jan 17

Embracing the Cloud for Your Business

This is likely not the first article you've read about what "the Cloud" can do for your business, a topic that can be amorphous and often confusing. Different people have differing definitions, expectations, and perspectives on the Cloud. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s define "Cloud" as the removal of intellectual assets and specific equipment from the physical building.

Let's take a look at what the Cloud may offer your business, and some real-world applications of moving to Cloud services.

First, the ability to move things from an actual structure into an abstracted off-site environment provides several advantages. As an example, a business running a customized program on a server in the network room may experience hiccups on this server, such as Windows updates and hard drive issues, which will impact business operations. Unexpected power outages will not only make the server unavailable, but may also corrupt data. Pulling this machine out of the building, and putting it into a real Data Center environment, will mitigate these risks.

Second, having infrastructure in the Cloud rather than in a physical facility can provide ease of access to critical information any time it is needed. By definition, Cloud architecture is not in your building. Therefore, the Cloud is constructed in a way in which your data can be delivered to a remote location. The Cloud doesn't care if the "remote location" is your main office, your house or even your mobile device as you stand in the bank lobby. Even if you want your data to be housed in your building, you can still send backup copies to the Cloud, where it will remain secure and accessible in the event that you need to recover something lost from your primary data repository. A well-designed solution will give you actionable information when you need it, where you need it.

Another aspect of an off-site IT solution is enhanced Disaster Recovery capabilities. Common crippling events, such as prolonged power outages, equipment failure, fire and storm damage, are minimized in a Cloud environment, due to the enhanced architecture of Cloud data centers and the ability to get to your data and services from anywhere.

Yet another advantage of Cloud architecture is scalability. Think about how a typical business approaches the replacement of an aging server. The old method of forecasting the growth of this business for three or five years into the future, and buying equipment today that will hopefully be capable of meeting that requirement in 2020, is inefficient and is not optimal. Running that application in a massive Cloud environment separates the software from the hardware platform, providing the ability to simply rent the resources needed today, and to easily toss more memory and CPU power to the application whenever it's needed.

The issue of Security is top of mind these days, with ransomware and other malicious malware becoming disturbingly commonplace. Research has shown that most cloud-based solutions are superior to on premise designs in this regard. Providers of Cloud services are security experts and can put more financial resources into maintenance of a solid security posture than can the typical small or medium business, yet another advantage.

Finally, as most Cloud services are designed as services that are abstracted from physical equipment, the pricing model is typically subscription-based, meaning that the periodic shocks of capital expenditures are replaced with predictable and cost-effective monthly (or annual) expense.

So how does this look in practice, on the street (or on the gravel road, or in the back 40)?

The first massive adoption of Cloud services was undertaken by telephone companies. Phones were dumb devices, with all of the switching, billing and logic functions handled by machines in the Central Office. None of us ever knew when the machines in the Central Office were replaced with new machines or when the billing software was updated. Everyone just picked up the phone, dialed a number and talked (and maybe even listened). Today, modern IP telephony pulls even more functionality into the Cloud while providing new features such as video and presence (the ability to see if the person you're trying to reach is available).

Applications, too, have been in the cloud long enough to have matured into solid service offerings. News and weather information are commonly accessed online, almost as a commodity. Salesforce and other online CRMs have experienced tremendous growth, as have Internet banking and other information-based industries. Even Microsoft Office applications (Excel, Word, and so on) are now hosted in the Cloud. The ability to present data to any authorized user via a web browser or an app on a smartphone is revolutionizing business and offers significant advantages to users adopting these new business models.

The move of physical hardware from network closets into the data centers of local service providers began a number of years ago, and is now accelerating with the advent of Cloud-based virtualized environments, where vast arrays of high-end machines spin up virtual computers as they're needed, and instantly delete them upon completion of their tasks, all on demand.

In the end, pushing onsite infrastructure away from the physical building and into the Cloud provides increased resilience, more access to your information when you need it, business continuity even in the event of a disaster, increased flexibility to scale up (or down), professional security, and lower total cost of ownership.  What this means is that by partnering with a trusted, experienced Cloud provider, you can stop spending time working on your infrastructure, gain new and enhanced access to your information and applications, and put new energy into your business.

To learn more about the most effective cloud solutions and how they can help grow your business, call us at 877-932-2691 or request a quote

9
Dec 16

The Future of Unified Communications: Bringing Integration to a Diverse and Evolving Workforce

 

The unified communications (UC) landscape is changing and evolving as technology continues to integrate our workforce. The rising expectations of enterprises are causing the UC space to push boundaries and blur the lines between work, leisure and mobility.

To close out the month of November, we’ve pulled together articles from around the web that offer insight into the current state of the UC space and how it will evolve to accommodate employee work habits, generational preferences and the increasing popularity of the remote workforce.

Why the Goal Should be Unified Experiences – Not Just Unified Communications

In this EnterpriseAppsTech article, Curtis Peterson suggests that the UC sector will strive to unify the entire workplace experience, not just its technologies. “Mobile phones won’t be the only ‘smart’ phones; we need smart desk phones that connect naturally to workplace applications. Workplace communication and collaboration tools in the cloud will allow us to shift from text based messaging and file sharing to real-time voice and video calls without losing the context of an interaction.”

Is UC Ready for the Digital Transformation?

According to James Anderson in this Channel Partners article, the digital transformation will continue to impact and expand the UC industry. “There are now more solutions in the marketplace than ever before,” he explains. “It will be essential for businesses to align themselves with an expert to help them navigate all of the various UC vendors and deployment options.” Moving forward, partners will have a greater influence on the industry, as well as a greater opportunity to offer guidance.

The Enterprise Gets Serious about Connecting its Workforce

The workforce is ready for the UC space and office technology to mirror the experiences they've become accustomed to within their consumer lives, as Michael Affronti states in this No Jitter article. “People want choices for how they communicate and engage with their teammates. They want their employers to understand the value these tools can bring to fostering workplace culture and job satisfaction.”

Bridging the Gap: Unified Communications for the Multigenerational Workforce

In his CIOReview article, Rich Shaw explains how the UC space will continue to bridge the gaps that the global workforce once was accustomed to. “Companies continue to lean into a mobile workplace, and many employees use remote offices or work out of their homes. This structure is becoming increasingly commonplace, making UC vital to the competitive business environment in order to keep a competitive advantage,” he states. “No doubt a business will experience setbacks if employees cannot connect and collaborate cohesively across miles and platforms.”

__________

The UC space has many changes and innovations on the horizon as it continues to push the boundaries of workplace collaboration capabilities, providing organizations with the tools they need to satisfy employees while bolstering productivity and mobility.

 

 

7
Nov 16

Embracing the Cloud for Your Business

April_30thThis is likely not the first article you've read about what "the Cloud" can do for your business, a topic that can be amorphous and often confusing. Different people have differing definitions, expectations, and perspectives on the Cloud. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s define "Cloud" as the removal of intellectual assets and specific equipment from the physical building.

Let's take a look at what the Cloud may offer your business, and some real-world applications of moving to Cloud services.

First, the ability to move things from an actual structure into an abstracted off-site environment provides several advantages. As an example, a business running a customized program on a server in the network room may experience hiccups on this server, such as Windows updates and hard drive issues, which will impact business operations. Unexpected power outages will not only make the server unavailable, but may also corrupt data. Pulling this machine out of the building, and putting it into a real Data Center environment, will mitigate these risks.

Second, having infrastructure in the Cloud rather than in a physical facility can provide ease of access to critical information any time it is needed. By definition, Cloud architecture is not in your building. Therefore, the Cloud is constructed in a way in which your data can be delivered to a remote location. The Cloud doesn't care if the "remote location" is your main office, your house or even your mobile device as you stand in the bank lobby. Even if you want your data to be housed in your building, you can still send backup copies to the Cloud, where it will remain secure and accessible in the event that you need to recover something lost from your primary data repository. A well-designed solution will give you actionable information when you need it, where you need it.

Another aspect of an off-site IT solution is enhanced Disaster Recovery capabilities. Common crippling events, such as prolonged power outages, equipment failure, fire and storm damage, are minimized in a Cloud environment, due to the enhanced architecture of Cloud data centers and the ability to get to your data and services from anywhere.

Yet another advantage of Cloud architecture is scalability. Think about how a typical business approaches the replacement of an aging server. The old method of forecasting the growth of this business for three or five years into the future, and buying equipment today that will hopefully be capable of meeting that requirement in 2020, is inefficient and is not optimal. Running that application in a massive Cloud environment separates the software from the hardware platform, providing the ability to simply rent the resources needed today, and to easily toss more memory and CPU power to the application whenever it's needed.

The issue of Security is top of mind these days, with ransomware and other malicious malware becoming disturbingly commonplace. Research has shown that most cloud-based solutions are superior to on premise designs in this regard. Providers of Cloud services are security experts and can put more financial resources into maintenance of a solid security posture than can the typical small or medium business, yet another advantage.

Finally, as most Cloud services are designed as services that are abstracted from physical equipment, the pricing model is typically subscription-based, meaning that the periodic shocks of capital expenditures are replaced with predictable and cost-effective monthly (or annual) expense.

So how does this look in practice, on the street (or on the gravel road, or in the back 40)?

The first massive adoption of Cloud services was undertaken by telephone companies. Phones were dumb devices, with all of the switching, billing and logic functions handled by machines in the Central Office. None of us ever knew when the machines in the Central Office were replaced with new machines or when the billing software was updated. Everyone just picked up the phone, dialed a number and talked (and maybe even listened). Today, modern IP telephony pulls even more functionality into the Cloud while providing new features such as video and presence (the ability to see if the person you're trying to reach is available).

Applications, too, have been in the cloud long enough to have matured into solid service offerings. News and weather information are commonly accessed online, almost as a commodity. Salesforce and other online CRMs have experienced tremendous growth, as have Internet banking and other information-based industries. Even Microsoft Office applications (Excel, Word, and so on) are now hosted in the Cloud. The ability to present data to any authorized user via a web browser or an app on a smartphone is revolutionizing business and offers significant advantages to users adopting these new business models.

The move of physical hardware from network closets into the data centers of local service providers began a number of years ago, and is now accelerating with the advent of Cloud-based virtualized environments, where vast arrays of high-end machines spin up virtual computers as they're needed, and instantly delete them upon completion of their tasks, all on demand.

In the end, pushing onsite infrastructure away from the physical building and into the Cloud provides increased resilience, more access to your information when you need it, business continuity even in the event of a disaster, increased flexibility to scale up (or down), professional security, and lower total cost of ownership.  What this means is that by partnering with a trusted, experienced Cloud provider, you can stop spending time working on your infrastructure, gain new and enhanced access to your information and applications, and put new energy into your business.

13
Oct 16

Communications Should Be Moving Toward the Enterprise

Considerations_for_the_Cloud

Organizations are realizing more and more the advantages of weaving digital solutions and practices into their company structures in order to stay ahead of the game. This not only makes companies competitive, but also more flexible and able to adapt to fast-changing practices and expectations.

According to a recent article by Data Center Knowledge, companies adopting these new enterprise technology methods should keep a few key business tech trends in mind. Here’s a look at three of trends applicable to the world of unified communications/VoIP.

The Hybrid Cloud Gains Momentum

With technology evolving at breakneck speed, some legacy applications and solutions are being left in the dust as they aren’t compliant with public cloud environments. In addition, there is a fair amount of skepticism surrounding the cloud and its ability to safely and securely hold sensitive information. The solution? Hybrid cloud environments. This approach enables business to be more agile, competitive and cost effective, allowing organizations to still utilize the cloud for their newer applications while still maintaining any systems that may contain private data in-house.

In the world of business phone systems, a hybrid cloud approach gives businesses the ability to merge the power of an on-site IP-based phone system with power of SIP connectivity and gain the benefits of the cloud while manage their phone system locally.

The Demand for High-Speed Bandwidth Increases

It’s no secret that bandwidth is a big deal – the demand is off the charts and shows no sign of slowing down. Cloud computing and mobile capabilities are two of the biggest components that eat up enterprise bandwidth. Enter Fiber and Ethernet-based services. These components vastly increase bandwidth, making them imperative for all organizations and industries, particularly larger ones and those with remote locations. With contact centers, for example, high bandwidth is crucial to real-time traffic flows and voice and video quality reliability.

Voice over IP Spreads to the Enterprise

Enterprises are gradually coming around to IP-based unified voice and data communications solutions, a trend reserved for small businesses until recently. With the push toward new technology, organizations are eager to replace their old phone systems with the newest and best features. The benefits include an overall decrease in cost, long-term agility to adapt to the constantly changing technology landscape and the ability to scale.

“In the last two years, many large organizations have started considering hosted Private Branch Exchange (hosted PBX) and Session Initiated Protocol trunking (SIP trunking) solutions,” according Data Center Knowledge. “With improved capabilities, like full-featured automatic call distribution (ACD), video integration and robust reporting, it is becoming more practical for larger organizations to go with IP-based solutions over a traditional on-premise system.”

The Enterprise Landscape

As these business tech trends make their way into enterprise DNA, companies that adapt and embrace these digital trends will outpace competitors hanging on to legacy solutions.