5 Mistakes Most Businesses Make with the Cloud

Guest Author: This week’s blog was brought to us by William Hayles – Will is a technical writer and blogger for Outscale, a leading cloud hosting provider in the USA and France.

Cloud Mistakes

The cloud’s awesome, but only if it’s properly implemented. Ask yourself: have you used it effectively, or have you committed one of these common mistakes? Is your organization using the cloud effectively?

As the services and platforms that comprise cloud computing become more widespread, more and more businesses are looking at it as a viable option. And really, why shouldn’t they be? In the right hands, it’s an incredibly powerful technology, allowing for better collaboration, faster development/deployment, and reduced costs all across the board.

Of course, like any technology, the cloud’s only effective if you use it properly. Improperly implemented, a cloud computing solution could actually end up increasing your overall spending, to say nothing of the potential for a data breach associated with an unsecured cloud network.

Today, we’re going to go over a few of the most common mistakes made by first-time cloud adopters – and more importantly, how your organization can avoid making them.

Failure To Understand The Cloud (And Your Needs)

By and large, the most frequent – and most significant – error on the part of cloud adopters is a simple lack of understanding. Perhaps thanks to the culture of buzzwords that’s grown up around the tech industry, many businesses see the cloud in only the vaguest sense. This leads them to adopt a cloud model that’s ill-suited for their needs, since they see the cloud as a single service.

The truth is, “cloud computing” is a lot more complex than one might expect. It’s a catch-all term, one that covers a wide spectrum of different services. It’s thus important that you know the different types of cloud models available to you, as well as which one best suits your organization’s needs – including capacity.

Thinking Exclusively In The Short-Term

Far too many professionals think only in the short-term – what action can make them the greatest profit in the shortest possible time? Approaching the cloud with such a stance is asking for failure. You can’t simply focus on what the cloud can do for you in the immediate future; to properly implement a cloud service model into an organization requires careful planning and a long-term roadmap

Not Implementing Proper Security

One of the most common arguments against the cloud is that it’s inherently less secure than more traditional computing models. In unskilled hands, this argument’s actually true. Before settling on a cloud service provider, make sure you understand what areas of security they’re responsible for – and which fall under your purview.

“Security is an afterthought in a lot of scenarios for companies because traditional applications have been hosted behind a firewall,” explained Riverbed Technology’s Technical Director Steve Riley at a recent ITEXPO West Panel.  “But it no longer can be an afterthought; it has to be part of the deployment and design.”

Taking On Way Too Much At Once

Cloud computing is incredible, as is its potential to improve your organization. Seeing how much money it can save – and how efficient it can make your business – means it can be tempting to try to replace your business’s infrastructure overnight. Don’t do it.

Especially if your business maintains a large network of legacy infrastructure, the cloud is something that needs to be adopted gradually. Start slow. Test out small-scale changes first before you implement anything too huge.

Making Foolish Assumptions

There are two assumptions you should never make about the cloud:

  1. That it will instantly solve all your problems
  2. That your entire organization will be on-board with the idea the second you pitch it.

Before you try to add a cloud to your business, you need to make sure you’ve actually got a clear idea in mind of what problems you want to address with it. It’s also vital that you discuss the matter with your IT department – not everyone is going to like the idea of a large-scale switch.

“Many existing enterprise organizations, both within their current IT team and across other departments, may not perceive the value of a move to the cloud,” writes Ken Christensen of Datalink.  “Be prepared for the culture to push back against the notion of the cloud. In some cases, you may even face active opposition.”

In order to effectively pitch the idea, Christensen advises that you be both specific and measurable. You need to give some clear, concrete demonstration of the value cloud computing holds to your business. Otherwise, you may as well scrap the idea altogether.

Get Your Head In The Cloud

Like any tool, the cloud’s only functional if you know how to use it. It’s not something you can implement halfway, nor can you utilize it without fully understanding what it does. If you try to use the cloud knowing your organization’s requirements and culture – as well as the underlying technology – then you’re simply asking for trouble.

So, I ask again – is your organization using the cloud effectively? Hopefully now you know the answer.

What is the New IP?

Guest Author: This week’s blog was brought to us by Michelle Patterson – Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

Have you heard a new term taking ahold of the telecom industry — “the new IP?”  If you’re anything like me, you’ve wondered what that was.  Intellectual property?  Information processing?  Industrial property?

Turns out it’s none of these.  It’s the same old familiar Internet Protocol.  But it’s simply viewed in a different way.  It’s viewed in a new, more user-centric way, as opposed to the older more IT-focused model.

When the web was first coming out, and people were first starting to use mobile devices, then it made sense for the old IT-focused model to be continued to be used.  After all, it had worked since the days when computer filled entire rooms; why should things change now?

Yet now with most of the world on mobile devices — some estimates say nearly 7 billion cellular contracts signed by the beginning of 2015, and that’s not even counting devices tethered to landlines — now the time has come to focus on the user’s part of the equation rather than the corporate part.  Providers and networks alike are being forced to tackle this progress straight-on, welcoming the change with the flowering of virtualized networks with a strong focus on both service and software.

Neglecting to include these new expansions in their overall model for business can mean a grievous death for providers and networks.  Their more progressive competitors will surely leave them in the dust.  Therefore, making sure both yourself and your staff are educated so as to make informed and intelligent decisions is crucial.  The future of your operations hangs in the balance, along with your software, services and networks.

How to understand “The New IP”

The way to understand the new IP is to take a deep and detailed look at the changes that are underway already.  In the old IT-centric IP structure, the majority of the focus was on the network and infrastructure.  The architecture was rigid and decisions were centralized around IT.

In the new IP, focus has changed to the user.  This has pushed other things such as BYOD, COPE, cloud applications, applications functions, content, mobility, data centers and virtualized networks into center stage.  The new IP seeks to scale to resources and clients on-demand by aiming its power at the user, using a cloud-like design.  Contrast this with the older way of doing things, with a rigid, IT-based architecture.

We see that it is now software that forms the backbone of what we call the new IP, changing the old mentality that “hardware is the center of the computing universe.”

So what does this mean for the wholesale telecom industry?

Early adopters will rush in to take advantage of the new IP.  In the face of this, there is an overall secret to staying ahead.  Overall, you should virtualize many of your network processes, especially those that focus on open-source, open-interface services, network function virtualization, modernized operations and simplified software defined networks.

There is potential in the new IP to save a great deal for a communication providers’ profit, especially regarding operating expenses and capital expenses.  This is while at the same time creating additional proceeds through content-driven services.  You might as how this is possible; I was skeptical as well.  But when I studied some more, I realized the answer lay with the virtualization of the network landscape.  Since with virtualization, you can limit unnecessary hardware purchases, this helps to create an environment where savings are promoted through effectively using infrastructure and personnel resources.  The same can be said for using automated on-demand services.

What about the end-users?

The new IP is very good news for end users.  The changes are bringing greater flexibility and control when picking applications and services.  As people advance their fluency with the Internet, the new IP is altering the landscape to fit their needs.  This “better fit” allows a more customized experience that’s shaped by the users themselves — altering, adding and removing services in moments rather than months.  All Internet-related operations are more simplified, resulting in both happier users and happier IT staff; usability and services are both propelled to the forefront as a result.

Infographic: Elevate Your Business with the Cloud

Companies are increasingly challenged with the rapid increase of data in their business and the subsequent need to manage and store it in a secure, reliable way. Storing your data and IT infrastructure onsite leaves it vulnerable to a variety of threats, including floods, earthquakes, fires, and tornados. In fact, 43% of businesses that experience a disaster never reopen. Cloud computing is no longer just an IT priority – it’s a business priority.

Go Cloud TeraGo Infographic

 

Interested in discovering how Cloud Solutions can elevate your business? Click here to learn more, or submit the form below:

Data and Servers get Gold Treatment at Vancouver Vault Data Center

At the beginning of 2014, it was announced that TeraGo Networks had purchased it’s first west coast data centre facility as a part of it’s strategic initiative to provide complementary solutions. However, this wasn’t just any regular facility — it was a vault, literally. The location was originally built for the Bank of Canada in 1966 to store gold bullion. The Bank of Canada occupied large parts of the building until 1997, and the vault is now used to house the critical IT infrastructures of several businesses.

Vancouver Vault

The massive vault door is still intact and fully functional, guarding the secured entrance to the server floor. This cool, dry area is the protected by 22″ thick steel reinforced concrete – providing some serious physical protection. Taking it to the next level; the space was also constructed utilizing a room-in-room design, which is essentially a concrete room inside a concrete room. There’s just enough space for a person to walk the perimeter of the inside room, which gives employees the space they need to monitor the condition of the structure to ensure it’s in pristine condition.

Vancouver Vault Data CenterVancouver Vault TeraGo

With many of the Bank of Canada’s original security features in place, the location provided the perfect space to house servers and IT equipment. After adding in some other protective items, like a state-of-the-art digital video recording system, a full man-trap solution with two factor authentication, and a second generator, the facility was ready to start welcoming customers and their IT infrastructure.

Vancouver Vault Data Center

Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the facility is becoming popular with IT professionals that are looking for something more interesting – and more physically secure – than the run-of-the-mill data centre facilities.

Vancouver Vault

 

Click here to learn more about the Vancouver Vault, or call us at 1.866.837.2565 to arrange a tour of the facility.

Canadian Cloud Adoption Slow, But Picking Up Speed

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Cloud computing has dominated the industry in recent years, with almost every provider under the sun offering some variation of the service. Cloud’s ability to cut operational costs and improve flexibility is a great benefit to businesses, yet a recent study found that several Canadian executives are uninformed about cloud technology – despite it’s popularity.

In fact, only 10% of the C-level employees polled during the study said they were familiar with the cloud, and of that small group, only 45% could correctly define what the cloud is. This lack of education and understanding is having an impact on the implementation of cloud, putting Canada’s adoption rate 10% behind that of US companies – so what can be done to close this gap? Identifying the concerns of Canadian business leaders is the first step.

The three perceived barriers to cloud adoption by Canadian companies are:

  1. Security: With so many stories on large businesses falling victim to data security breaches, it’s no wonder why companies are proceeding with caution. Approximately 45% of study respondents believe storing information in the cloud is unsafe, with heavy hitters like Target and Home Depot cited as cautionary examples.
  2. Education: A study conducted by IDC found that several Canadian businesses believed there were regulations in place that inhibit their ability to use the cloud.
  3. Technology: Canadian business are still purchasing traditional hosting and outsourcing services, which can impede their adoption of cloud.

The next step is to address those perceived barriers:

  1. Security: Canadian companies need to look for cloud partners who are taking security seriously and investing in a variety of tools that have been designed to protect data. For example, do you feel safer putting your money in the bank or stuffing it under your mattress? Cloud providers have made investments to ensure their customer’s data is secure, much like banks invest in keeping your money safe.
  2. Education: IDC found that 66% of Canadian cloud users believe they surpass their peers in revenue growth, and 64% find themselves at a competitive advantage.
  3. Technology: Businesses could spend 8-12 weeks to get a server installed and configured, while cloud solutions may only take 8-12 minutes. Small and medium businesses in Canada have been the primary adopters of cloud so far, since they typically don’t have a reliance on legacy hardware – making the transition to cloud easier.

For Canadian businesses to level the global playing field, it’s important that they get serious about cloud adoption. The number of cloud providers in Canada is increasing, signifying that businesses are slowly but surely turning to cloud technologies. However, it’s important that companies do their research and partner with a provider who truly understand the cloud and can put any CIO’s mind at ease.

Want to learn more about cloud? Click here.

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.

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