Bare-Metal Cloud Beats Virtualization for Web and eCommerce Hosting

Guest Author: This week’s blog post was provided by Graeme Caldwell — Graeme works as an inbound marketer for InterWorx, a revolutionary web hosting control panel for hosts who need scalability and reliability. Follow InterWorx on Twitter at @interworx, Like them on Facebook and check out their blog, http://www.interworx.com/community.

Here’s a question that many who enthusiastically embrace the cloud don’t seem to consider: who does cloud virtualization benefit? The cloud industry would have you believe that the checks are all in the client’s column, but for the vast majority of use-cases, and particularly those that involve web and eCommerce hosting, virtualization’s main benefits accrue to the vendor. If you recall, the first cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service platforms were developed by Internet giants like Amazon who had excess capacity that frequently sat idle. Virtualization allowed them to sell that excess capacity to clients as virtual servers and networking infrastructure, maximizing the ROI on their hardware procurement and maintenance budgets.

It was a smart strategy and one that prompted an explosion of interest from data center and hosting providers who wanted a way to increase the efficiency of their hardware utilization in an industry that was being forced by price wars in a highly competitive environment to ever narrower profit margins.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service provided definite benefits to certain areas of the market. But those benefits are not universal, in fact they pertain to a fairly narrow sector. It’s useful to those who want access to High-Performance Computing without renting time on a supercomputer. It’s great for a service like Netflix that depends on high levels of elasticity. And it’s handy for development and testing, where the ability to spin up an ephemeral test platform is useful.

But web and eCommerce hosting are a radically different proposition, ones for which performance, stability, reliability, and availability are of significantly greater importance than by-the-hour elasticity. For site owners, the purported benefits of virtualized platforms don’t really apply. Instead, the vendors get the advantage of virtualization and clients get the all of the negatives: degraded performance for very little in return.

In comparison to virtualized cloud platforms, bare-metal clouds, in which the virtualization layer is eschewed and client operating systems run directly on the physical hardware, provide significantly better price/performance ratios.

Cloud cheerleaders might consider bare-metal clouds a retrograde step, but that’s an attitude that reflects a belief that one strategy is best for all situations. If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Stepping back from the hype and focusing on what hosting clients really need, it’s clear that bare-metal clouds or server clusters are the best option. They’re not as elastic as virtualized platforms, but almost no-one actually needs that level of elasticity, and certainly not the average web site or eCommerce store. Any decent hosting provider is capable of managing horizontal scaling of a bare-metal cloud on a timescale of hours and days, which is more than sufficient for all but a tiny percentage of users.

With a bare-metal cloud, you get all of the performance, scalability at speeds adequate to meet the needs of almost every business, and none of the negative consequences of running a virtualization layer.

Prepare Your Business for the Digital Disruption

The message from Gartner’s recent CIO Survey is clear; a digital disruption is on the horizon, and not many businesses are prepared for it. Having the ability to manage, harvest, and analyze data is essential to success in 2015 and beyond. The top two priorities indicated by the survey results are responding to the ongoing needs for efficiency and growth by renovating the core of IT and shifting to exploit a fundamentally different, digital paradigm, including new technologies and trends.

Industry change

However, over 50% of CIOs that took part in the survey also stated that they were worried this shift in the industry is coming faster than they can handle, and 42% feel that they don’t have the right skills and capabilities in place to navigate this future. Further compounding the issue, CIO IT budgets are only expected to change by +0.2% on average. This presents a significant challenge, as there is an expectation to simultaneously renovate the core of IT systems and services while employing new technology options.

So what can businesses do to overcome these barriers? Aligning with the right technology partner can make a huge difference. Many of the current telecommunication leaders are set up to thrive in the old platform environment, not the new “big data world” that the industry is moving towards. As a result, businesses can no longer rely on the big telcos to help them navigate this new world since many of them are learning it themselves.

Businesses need to look for the partners, vendors, and providers that are competent leaders in this new digital environment. Some key indicators to look for would be:

  • How much of their product offering is based in the old platform?
  • How much experience do they have with cloud technology?
  • Do they own their network? Or is it outsourced?
  • Do they have FTEs? Or do they use contractors?

The answers to these questions will give you a sense of their level of commitment (as indicated by whether they “rent” or own their network infrastructure or employee base) and their understanding of the type of technologies needed to be successful. To learn more about this pivitol change in the industry, we recommend reading Gartner’s Taming the Digital Dragon.

Is your business is prepared to handle this industry change? Comment below and let us know what you think.

 

Infographic: APIs that Secretly Rule Your Life

Data and user information is the lifeblood of businesses in today’s market, and having the ability to collect and utilize that information is essential. Application program interfaces, or APIs, are used by companies and establishments to collect, organize, and analyze data on a daily basis. But what type of information is being collecting? In one word – everything. This includes political preference, social insurance number, Facebook likes, emails, reviews on Yelp, ecommerce, and much, much more. The data collected is then used by companies to learn about their customers (or target market) and create messaging that is custom tailored for each individual. Check out this infographic, provided by Who Is Hosting This?, to learn just how pervasive APIs are:

The-APIs-That-Secretly-Rule-Your-Life-ver.02-01

 

How do you feel about companies using your online information to promote their product or service? Is this a natural progression as we continue to move to a more virtual lifestyle? Let us know what you think by posting a comment below

The Future of Cloud Computing Infographic

Guest Author: This week’s blog post was provided by Ivan Serrano, an online entrepreneur who enjoys writing about tech, globalization, and business communications. He often contributes to 1800-number.com’s blog, and he prides himself on his love of sharing information with others. Ivan is passionate about what he does, and aims to stimulate conversation with his work.

The digital revolution is long underway, moving from block-sized computers of the 90’s to sleek, one-pound MacBook Air laptops to a now invisible landscape up in the clouds. Cloud computing, where computers can sync up and store data on large databases “in the cloud” is growing increasingly popular for companies to store and share data in a safe and reliable way.

The digital clouds are now blowing north. Cloud computing is primarily used by American companies, who have been using the cloud not only to store and share data, but also for messaging and conferencing purposes. But two years ago, the cloud had yet to catch wind in Canada. In fact, until recently, Canada had the lowest internet caps in all of the developed world. This is something the Canadian Cloud Council is trying to change; to create an open and democratized proliferation of information online. While the Canadian government remains skeptical of cloud computing for security purposes, Canadian companies are beginning to privately take the reigns using dot-ca domain names hosted outside Canada, and the cloud is becoming the route to take. This infographic explains how cloud computing works, and the dangers that come along with it.

 

CloudUpIntheAir

Measuring the Value of Unified Communication for Business

Guest Author: This week’s blog post was provided to us by Tanya Williams, a freelance writer and blogger. She has been working with telecom companies for over 20 years, writing about new technologies and how businesses and business owners can take advantage of them. Her topics included IP based communications technologies, cloud computing, website development, and many more.

Up until now, Unified Communications (UC) has been an ambitious promise — albeit one that seemed quite likely to come true. The real bottom line, though, and the deal-breaker with any technology – no matter how promising it seems, is its return on investment (ROI). In the case of UC, it’s been difficult to truly define because it’s so diffuse in nature. Thus, it is a difficult matter to get a real handle on its ROI. However, as of late this metric is finally shaping up for the following seven reasons.

The Story from Vendors

There is considerable progress being made in the video conferencing and telepresence sectors, and these types of platforms are being included in unified communications packages more and more. CDW’s business development manager, Bill Coe, said that if he can inform a CFO that adding video will reduce the time-to-market of a product by up to six weeks, then the gains are often enough to convince that senior exec to give it the green light. If that’s not enough, then he just has to remind the exec of the added advantages that the same video platform will provide elsewhere in the company when moving forward.

Cost Reduction

By deploying a cloud-based communications solution, the need for installing, supporting, managing and maintaining an in-house infrastructure is eliminated. This allows your enterprise to downsize its IT management and maintenance costs. Deploying UC also allows other resources to be redirected to other tasks.

Productivity

Return on investment is not always measured in dollars — sometimes it comes in the form of increased productivity. This is certainly the case with UC. Since communications are made so much easier with UC, the productivity of your employees is enhanced almost immediately. For example, Salesforce has developed an interface that integrates click-to-dial technologies, saving the user 15 to 20 seconds per phone call. That may not sound like a lot — but if you multiply that figure by the hundreds of calls your sales team makes every day, and the thousands of calls they make every week — it adds up, giving them a few extra hours every week to connect with customers or prospects. And on top of that, UC enabled systems allow for improved collaboration and communication, as there is less time wasted trading unproductive messages back and forth or tracking people down.

Mitigation of Risk

Given its redundant, cloud-based infrastructure, communications are far more stable than non-unified solutions. Therefore, a UC service is much more likely to stay up and running at all times.

Better Customer Service

One major factor setting any business apart from its competitors is how quickly it’s able to respond to its customers and partners, and how effectively it’s able to resolve their problems. Businesses that take steps to improve their communication systems are much more likely to enjoy customer loyalty, retention, and repeat business.

Heightened Business Agility

By using UC, information can be distributed quickly across your entire enterprise. This enables your team to act as a cohesive unit, and to gain a better understanding of critical information than ever before. This, in turn, positions your organization for faster decision making.

Mobile Employees are Supported Better

Since UC connects all devices across your enterprise, no matter where they are, it allows any employees that are in the field to work with real time information. They don’t have to wait to “check in” to get the latest data.

Conclusion

UC always did seem like a good idea, as did what it’s built upon — things such as video conferencing and VoIP. There is one major difference now, though: The industry is finally at a point where it can actually be proven.

Ways Small Business Can Benefit from VoIP

Guest Author: This week’s blog was provided to us by Matt Larson – a Canadian tech blogger. Matt writes primarily for the VoIP industry and is currently working from the road with VoIP Spear – a global VoIP monitoring service provider. For more about Matt, including links to his blogs, check out his Google+ profile.  

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Small business owners are always in a precarious situation. For one thing, you should give your business – especially if it’s a startup – all that you’ve got. This is the wallet-hurting “you get what you give” kind of relationship, where tenacity, dedication and hard work are required when you want to recoup your investments. On the other hand, you should always get your money’s worth. You can’t just bleed money – you’re in business to make money.

In this scenario, VoIP is your telecommunication salve. You get benefits that lodge your business up there, among forward-thinking movers and shakers. It’s kind to your wallet too.

Save Money

Of course, the foremost benefit of using VoIP is that you can save money. Calls you make from/to anywhere in the world will be cheaper. Account setup is easy and doesn’t cost much too. You can start off using softphones to save money. Or, use analog telephone adapters (ATA) with your old phones. ATAs cost less than SIP phones.

Do More Than Talk

VoIP comes with several functionalities that help your business work more efficiently and reach out to partners and clients more effectively. These functions ultimately fall under “telecommunications convergence.” Cross access and share information through your phone system. Login to your voicemail remotely. Work anywhere and still be reachable through VoIP. Come across as more professional and trustworthy through videoconferencing. These added functions enhance your user experience, and can ultimately create better employee and client relationships.

Enjoy Portability

Your mobility can make a big difference in your business’s profitability. Through technology, the world has opened up into one big diverse market. Your business can be located in a First World small town, and still, you can deal with partners in Asia and Europe. It pays to be accessible wherever you are. People can call you at your First World small town number even when you’re in India, England or France doing business – at the same low cost VoIP rate.

Improve Employee Cooperation

Better cooperation among employees is often a byproduct of the easier flow of information. VoIP, through telecommunications convergence, can do this for your business. Access and sharing of information become more efficient.

Protect Your Investment

For a small business to enjoy the full benefits of VoIP, you have to protect it, as you would your important investments. You can do so through two simple steps:

  1. Ensure that your VoIP is always accessible, at your end, through the set up of emergency power sources and call forwarding.
  2. Monitor your VoIP’s performance through services like VoIP Spear to ensure consistent uptime and quality of service.

Is Cyber Insurance Worth It?

It seems like every day that we hear about another company that has been hit by a cyber attack, resulting in a breach of data. From large enterprises to start-ups, it has become apparent that no business is safe from hackers. Don’t believe it? A study released this week revealed that 36% of Canadian businesses were hit by an attack over the past 12 months, and that number only reflects the companies that are aware they’ve been breached. So what can businesses do to protect themselves?

Some companies are taking a closer look at cyber insurance in an effort to protect themselves from the negative impacts of a breach in data. Cyber liability insurance coverage (CLIC) has been available for about 10 years now, but a number of security professionals aren’t aware of it. The primary adopters of CLIC are businesses located in countries that have mandatory data breach notification laws, such as Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Slovakia, South Korea, Taiwan, and 46 of the 50 states in the United States of America.

The mandatory data breach regulations and CLICs go hand in hand, since it can be very costly for companies to notify affected users. By employing cyber insurance, businesses that are obligated to alert users of a breach can recoup some of their costs. However, considering the increasing number of data breaches and cyber attacks, businesses that are not currently impacted by mandatory data breach regulations may begin adopting CLICs as well.

So what exactly does CLIC cover? At the moment, cyber insurance can include:

  • Data breach/privacy crisis management cover: Expenses related to the management of an incident, the investigation, the remediation, call management, data subject notification, credit checking for data subjects, legal costs, court attendance, and regulatory fines.
  • Multimedia or Media liability cover: Third-party damages covered can contain specific defacement of website and/or intellectual property rights infringement.
  • Extortion liability cover: Losses due to a threat of extortion and professional fees related to dealing with the extortion.
  • Network security liability cover: Third-party damages as a result of denial of access, costs related to data on third-party suppliers, and costs related to the theft of data on third-party systems.

It’s important to do your research and determine which cyber insurance coverage is best for your business. Every company is different, so it’s important to understand what cyber risks you may be challenged with and choose the CLIC policy that best addresses those risks. However, utilizing a variety of physical and virtual security methods to protect your network from a cyber attack is the best way to safeguard your business.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

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