Author Archives: CloudTweaks

Cloud Storage Management: Balancing Cloud And In-house Data

Cloud Storage Management: Balancing Cloud And In-house Data

Cloud Storage Management: Balancing Cloud and In-house Data

Data has always been valuable, but over the past decade we have seen a dramatic increase in just how much data holds value. We know the optimal time of day to post on social networks, we can predict what a customer’s next purchase will be based on a few of their previous purchases, and we test which call-to-action is more likely to succeed in each demographic.

With all this data comes the need for storage and management. Protection and accessibility are essential to proper data storage, and cloud storage has become an incredibly viable solution that gives you access to your data while keeping it secure, and adjusting to fit your needs. But that doesn’t entirely replace the need for keeping some of your most vital information in-house as well.

Utilizing the Cloud

Some people still fear putting their data into the cloud based on unfounded assumptions of insecurity, but what many people with this paranoia fail to realize is that when you use a cloud storage vendor, you are using a team of professionals that specializes in storing and protecting data, so can provide you with a more secure option than your internal staff of IT generalists can provide.

Cloud services also provide elasticity in their services, allowing you to easily adjust the volume of storage you need to use, so you aren’t overpaying for storage space in anticipation of growth. The capacity grows with you which keeps the cost lower.

Integrated cloud storage will also help you sync multiple locations while keeping IT costs lower by not requiring as much support at each location.

Keeping Your Hands on It

One issue to consider with cloud storage is the possibility of downtime that could make your data inaccessible. While this is a real concern, it is also a concern with your own internal network, and cloud service providers understand that uptime is one of the most important aspects of their service and prioritize it appropriately.

What this means is that your most vital data should be stored on-site and in the cloud, because sometimes redundancies are good. Whether you’re worried about an outage or disaster recovery, cloud storage in conjunction with some physical storage is going to provide the best solution but does require integration.

Integration

There is a necessary investment to start implementing cloud storage and meld it with your existing physical data center. Fortunately, shard infrastructure platforms, like Dell’s PowerEdge VRTX server, make this integration process simple and managed so that all systems are running seamlessly on the most current information, regardless of whether your current system uses direct attached storage (DAS), network attached storage (NAS), Fibre Channel, or internet SCSI.

In addition to making cloud storage setup a breeze, these integrated server solutions put you in a position to start utilizing other services to make your business more efficient like desktop virtualization to let employees work from anywhere without issues or to automate IT tasks to provide quicker response to events and reduce errors in regular maintenance.

Making the Move

The expansion of cloud services is a growing trend because it is one of the few win-win scenarios where you get better performance and greater flexibility at a lower cost than traditional services. Many companies’ resistance on moving to cloud storage is because they have already invested in traditional storage solutions, but continuing t throw good money after bad is not how businesses survive. Making the move now positions your company to be ready for the new computing era where big ROI comes from big data.

mattsmith

By Mike Smith

Matt Smith works for Dell and enjoys learning and writing about technology. When not working, he enjoys entrepreneurship, being with his family, and the outdoors.

Forrester Study: Cloud Services Remains Elusive For Many Enterprises

Forrester Study: Cloud Services Remains Elusive For Many Enterprises

Key Findings Of Study: Cloud Services Remains Elusive For Many Enterprises

Companies Need A Unified Cloud and Network Strategy to Maximize Full Benefits of Cloud Computing, Software-as-a-Service, and Other Cloud-Based Services

HERNDON, VA – October 2, 2013 – Although cloud-based services are now widely utilized by the vast majority of enterprises, a new study by Forrester Consulting has found that many organizations are not realizing the full potential value of these services because their networks are not prepared to support the increased bandwidth demands and complexity of multiple cloud-based services.

saas-cloud

The September 2013 commissioned study, “Building for the Future: What the New World of Cloud IT Means for the Network” which was conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of XO Communications and Juniper Networks, examined current cloud technology adoption trends, application usage types in the cloud, satisfaction levels with expected benefits, and the impacts cloud services are having on the enterprise network. The study surveyed more than 150 IT decision makers at companies with more than 500 employees across several industries.

Key Findings of the Study:

1. Cloud Services Adoption Is Widespread and Business-Critical Apps Are Moving to the Cloud

The study confirms the trend that enterprises are moving to the cloud with a majority of businesses having embraced at least one cloud service.  Moreover, after testing the waters with simple tasks, IT and business organizations are now shifting advanced, business-critical applications and services from internal data centers to cloud platforms. Specifically, the study found that:

•       More than 75% of enterprises are using or plan to use some type of cloud-based service;
•       50% more respondents plan on moving revenue-generating B2B e-commerce sites to cloud environments this year compared to last year;
•       Software, storage, and disaster-recovery-as-a service represent the top three cloud-based services; and
•       More than 50% of IT decision makers said their organization will be using four or more cloud platforms.

2. The True Value of Cloud Services Remains Elusive

While many enterprises are reporting cost savings by moving to cloud platforms, the reality is that very few enterprises have seen values outside of cost savings.  A major finding of the study contradicts one of the largest expectations IT professionals have when adopting cloud services: that the cloud provides them with a fast, easy set of IT resources.  According to the study, only 20% of IT decision makers said they were very satisfied with this benefit.  This is because many aspects of the infrastructure and operations supporting these services are not found in the cloud but in the network, which many enterprises have not refreshed for the new world of Cloud IT.

The findings in the study also reveal some interesting contradictions.  Although 88% of IT decision makers believe cloud-based services will have an impact on the network, less than half of them said their organization had upgraded their network in the last three years.

In fact, the study shows that most organizations have given a higher priority to implementing cloud-based services and other IT initiatives over refreshing or upgrading the network.  According to the study, IT decision makers have placed a higher priority on five other IT initiatives (server upgrades, pursuing cloud services, storage refresh, PC refresh, and upgrading security environments) over the upgrading their network.

3. A Scalable, Agile and High Performance Network is Necessary for the New World of Cloud IT

In order to improve the value of their cloud services and accommodate the impact of cloud services on the network, the majority of IT organizations have had to upgrade their company’s networks.  Specifically, the study found that:

•       78% of enterprises had to upgrade one or more aspects of the network
•       47% of enterprises had to upgrade network bandwidth
•       46% had to invest in new security services

Organizations expanding or implementing cloud services have taken these lessons to heart.  IT decision makers said that upgrading the network is now their top priority for a comprehensive strategy to support public cloud and other cloud-based services offerings.

What is clear in the study is that enterprise networks have reached a tipping point with respect to being able to support more business-critical services that reside in the cloud,” said Don MacNeil, chief marketing officer at XO Communications.  “In order to realize the full benefits of cloud-based services, companies will have to examine their networks for readiness, align it with their business and IT strategy, and start to design new network infrastructures to enable a scalable, high-performing, cost-effective and secure cloud services environment.”

The full study is available for download by clicking here.

In addition, XO Communications will be hosting a live webinar on October 9, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. EDT featuring guest speaker, Forrester Research, Inc. principal analyst Andre Kindness, who will review the key findings of the study.  To register for the webinar, go to http://bit.ly/185i8Mv.

About Juniper Networks

Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) delivers innovation across routing, switching and security. From the network core down to consumer devices, Juniper Networks’ innovations in software, silicon and systems transform the experience and economics of networking. Additional information can be found at Juniper Networks (www.juniper.net) or connect with Juniper on Twitter and Facebook.

About XO Communications

XO Communications is a leading nationwide provider of advanced IP communications, intelligent networking, and cloud computing services for business, large enterprise and wholesale customers. These customers include more than half of the Fortune 500, in addition to leading cable, mobile wireless and domestic and international telecommunications companies. XO offers a superior customer experience through its innovative solutions, its employees’ focus on customers and the proven performance of its advanced network. To learn more about XO Communications, visit www.xo.com or blog.xo.com.  XO Communications is also on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.

XO and the formative uses of each are all trademarks and registered trademarks of XO Communications, LLC.  Other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark owners.

Juniper Networks and Junos are registered trademarks of Juniper Networks, Inc. in the United States and other countries. The Juniper Networks and Junos logo are trademarks of Juniper Networks, Inc. All other trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks, or registered service marks are the property of their respective owners.

# # #

The following information provides profile information on the respondents to the survey.
Respondents by Company Size:

•       500 – 999 employees: 19%
•       1,000 – 4,999 employees: 38%
•       5,000 – 19,999 employees: 22%
•       20,000 or more employees: 21%

Respondents by Industry:

•       Manufacturing: 31%
•       Healthcare: 21%
•       Financial Services and Insurance: 20%
•       Professional & Business Services (consulting, legal, real estate, transportation services): 12%
•       Retail & Wholesale: 7%
•       Information Technology: 4%
•       Hospitality: 3%
•       Media & Entertainment: 2%

Level of involvement with decisions about the use cloud services:

•       54% said they were the final decision makers regarding their organizations’ use of cloud/SaaS implementations and/or vendor selection.
•       46% said they influence decisions regarding implementation of and/or vendor selection for cloud/SaaS services or manage vendor relations.

Position or title within the organization:

•       45% said they had overall responsibility for the IT department with a title such as CIO, CTO, etc.
•       21% said they held a senior position within the IT department, such as Senior VP, VP, Chief IT Architect.
•       34% said they were a director or manager with the IT department/function.

Cloud Computing: Business Continuity vs. Disastrous Events

Cloud Computing: Business Continuity vs. Disastrous Events

Cloud Computing: Business Continuity vs. Disastrous Events

Bad weather can cost companies money. It is an unfortunate lesson to learn the hard way, but natural disasters like hurricanes, floods or super storms are dramatic examples of the value of cloud solutions when it comes to resiliency in the face of a catastrophe, and the ability to recover and resume operations as quickly as possible.

The problem is that many workers lack the ability to work remotely – when they are away from the office or transportation systems fail. IT systems in the cloud allow workers to conduct business from anywhere by accessing emails, documents, lines of business applications, and communicating online.

Last year, scores of companies suffered staff shortages due to snow and ice, and with many lacking the means to enable working remotely. IT managers today see this (weather) as a significant threat to business, with IT failure, loss of telecommunications and loss of access to the workplace.

Cloud computing helps organizations meet their business continuity and disaster recovery needs, and supports remote employees by providing them with a secure way to access corporate data even if the corporate headquarters is affected. With IT in the cloud, all employees can access their work systems from home with a 99.9% uptime. Services delivered from the cloud utilize the power of the Internet to provide critical IT on demand.

Cloud services also serve as a crucially important disaster recovery and business continuity service. When a company has a redundant set of services running in the cloud, a disaster in one geography will not impact the business. From there, it can be determined whether to run in real-time when there is an outage in one location versus having a delay as reconstructed backups are put in place to serve as business continuity.

Moreover, cloud represents significant cost saving benefits by increasing capacity utilization, and reducing servers, real estate, power consumption, costs and a company’s carbon footprint.

Having a system in place that allows employees to work remotely, without additional provisioning and cost, is invaluable to any business, especially those that have limited resources. Cloud enables these businesses to take full advantage of enterprise class data centers.

Without stating the high rates of failure among businesses that experience a disaster, the cloud is a way to avoid a natural disaster creating an economic disaster. Companies that run their business in the cloud, beyond a single workload and those that have gone through “business provisioning,” are more resilient because their systems do not rely on access to a specific workplace. As long as there is Internet connectivity, workers and IT administrators can continue to operate as usual.

ali-din

By Ali Din,

Ali Din is Sr. Vice President and CMO at dinCloud, a cloud services provider that helps organizations rapidly migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

Why The Cloud Is Emerging As A Leader In Employee And Partner Training

Why The Cloud Is Emerging As A Leader In Employee And Partner Training

Why the Cloud is Emerging as a Leader in Employee and Partner Training

Employee training is an art not yet perfected. The days of sitting in a classroom and getting lectured about the company product/s are over. Technology is revolutionizing the way companies are able to train employees and channel partners. Videos, documents, webpages, photos and other training material can be accessed through the cloud to enable a smoother training process. Not only is the cloud a place for managers to train, but they also have the ability to set standards for their employees and partners.

HR-CloudSelf-Service

Nowadays, we are growing up as more independent individuals than ever before and there has been a shift towards self-service in all aspects of life. Grocery store self-checkout suppliers predict growth of 84% over the next 5 years. Powerful banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and USAA now allow you to deposit a check just by taking a photo on your smartphone. Employee training has also entered this era. The cloud provides a platform in which employees and resellers can learn on their own and at a pace they feel comfortable with. They don’t have to show up at a certain time and follow a designated path. These people know better than anyone else what they need more training on. With all of this information up in the cloud, they can spend more time on what is important to their own unique learning needs. As an extension of this shift to self-service, the cloud is a training mechanism that provides an individualized experience.

Anywhere, Anytime

Employees and resellers may travel, work from home, work at a different location or be meeting with a client. Wherever they may be, it’s important that they are always prepared. The ability to access material anywhere and at anytime is becoming a necessity. With use of the cloud, employees and partners are able to pull up information at the touch of their fingertips and from any device. The cloud stores their valuable resources so that whenever there is a question, it can be answered on the spot. We’re all busy and the cloud enables us to keep our flexibility.

Highly Secure

Most businesses need the utmost privacy for their training files. There could be confidential information, passwords, unreleased press coverage and many other materials that need to be kept secure. On the managers’ single machine, these files could be damaged and lost forever. In the cloud, they can’t be. With better privacy settings and less infringing Terms of Service Agreements, companies using cloud software to train employees and channel partners are in good hands. The training manager will have permissions over content in the cloud so only the people that need to see material will have the ability to access it.

Expectations Made Clear

By placing training material up in the cloud, managers have the ability to track who is most engaged, thereby setting an activity threshold. If an employee or partner isn’t performing up-to-speed it’s easy to get to the root of the problem. The manager expects all of his/her content to be read and processed in a timely fashion. These expectations can be made clear by how often the manager cycles through material. A standard is set by the manager for how the training material should be accessed and put to use. In turn, sales should correlate.

Relaying all of the information that an employee or partner needs to know is a difficult task. Employing the use of cloud software can only make this easier. Your training will be personalized, mobile and secure. Even better, it becomes easier to set and track goals. For good reasons, cloud technology is now a leading phenomenon for company training programs.

By Laura Lilyquist,

Laura is currently the Vice President of Marketing at LiveHive, where she is responsible for global marketing strategy, communications, and business planning.  Laura has led marketing endeavors at world-renowned companies, including most recently at Symantec, where she served as the Global Director of Emerging Business. She has also led marketing and business development groups at tech giants, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, and built teams from the ground up at numerous early-stage companies.

The Next Wave Of Cloud Computing

The Next Wave Of Cloud Computing

Next Tech Wave

Cloud adoption at the enterprise level requires that cloud vendors deliver on enterprise-class reliability, security, and management.  While service levels for cloud computing are competitive with most companies’ on-premise datacenters, concerns about security will drive enterprise-scale organizations to choose to deploy hybrid-cloud applications.  Hybrid-cloud in turn creates new distributed application management challenges.  The move to hybrid-cloud for larger organizations with complex applications will depend on vendors’ ability to deliver comprehensive application management that spans across both cloud and datacenter environments.

Reliability — Table Stakes for Cloud Offerings

The Software-as-a-Service market has established that cloud-based delivery of software can be routine.  Major vendors (Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure) have set the standard for reliability for Infrastructure-as-a-Service that has driven the early growth of cloud computing services. While there have been a number of high-profile outages, AWS and Azure have consistently delivered service levels that rival or beat those of on-premise datacenters. Other cloud vendors —Rackspace, Terremark, plus a growing crowd of additional entrants — are offering similar service levels.

Security — Driving Hybrid Cloud Adoption

Much early cloud adoption has been driven by application development and quality and assurance organizations.  But production systems – particularly those in sensitive industries – are another story.  CIOs have the mandate to protect sensitive information like credit card numbers, patient records, or proprietary business processes. Many organizations are bound by regulatory requirements that govern how they store and protect data, like HIPAA rules in the healthcare field.

To address these security concerns and still capture the efficiency and flexibility benefits offered by cloud deployments, companies will look to Hybrid Cloud models. Hybrid Cloud is perfect for the enterprise — front-end application components have Cloud scalability while back-end data-stores remain secure on-premise.

Monitoring — The Gateway to Hybrid Cloud

gives the enterprise the scalability of the cloud and alleviates concerns about reliability and security. But, Hybrid Cloud presents a new challenge: interconnected applications are harder to monitor. Unless monitoring tools change to solve this problem, enterprise IT will not embrace the Cloud.

Applications represent critical business functions for companies, so IT needs to monitor them comprehensively for problems. But, Hybrid Cloud creates a broken monitoring view. Most Cloud service vendors provide tools to track cloud systems, while most IT teams use their own tools to track on-premise servers. Neither is well equipped to provide comprehensive monitoring that spans across both cloud and datacenter-deployed application components.

To solve this problem, monitoring systems must evolve to give a unified view of the entire Hybrid Cloud. They must show IT teams where performance breakdowns are occurring across both the Cloud and the datacenter. They must treat Hybrid Cloud as one engine, with all systems firing to deliver a positive user experience.

vic-nymanBy Vic Nyman,

Vic Nyman is the co-founder and COO of BlueStripe Software. Vic has over 20 years of experience in systems management and APM and has held leadership positions at Wily Technology, IBM Tivoli, and Relicore/Symantec.

How Cloud-Based Content Management Inspires Collaboration

How Cloud-Based Content Management Inspires Collaboration

Collaboration has been a longtime asset for workplace success, and the modern arrival of telecommuting has allowed even more collaborative options. Many successful companies have gotten off the ground without even having a dedicated office, instead choosing to compile a virtual team of specialists who collaborate with content management software. Traditional methods of collaboration like e-mail and phone work fine for checking in, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty of getting work done, content management software has proven highly beneficial for startups that rely on collaboration to produce results.

One major benefit of content management software over traditional collaboration methods is the ability of content management software to implement the cloud in storing documents and data. No longer do collaborators have to be contingent on e-mail servers or phone lines to access their work files. With cloud-based storage, content management software ensures file reliability, in addition to file security. Most CMS utilizes 128-bit encryption to prevent against even the most experienced hackers. Whereas e-mail can be potentially hacked into, the encryption of cloud-based content management software ensures that specified documents will be for your eyes only, or at least only the users you assign permission to.

In addition to the advanced security of a cloud-based content management system, the cloud grants users to access their files from anywhere, whether they’re on the beach or on a plane. This makes for endless collaboration possibilities. No longer do team members have to stick close to the company’s computer terminal to complete work. With cloud-based content management software, they can complete work while on a plane to a work meeting, enhancing preparation for both the work at hand and the upcoming meeting. Additionally, talented team members with hectic schedules will be vastly more accommodated, increasing a business’ likelihood of attracting desirable employees, and also making it easier for these employees to complete work on time.

The benefits of the cloud are numerous in addition to security and accessibility, and one major additional benefit for businesses is the ability of CMS to find files quickly. The speed of cloud-based storage makes it easy to find specific files, with search options that allow users to search by file type, date modified, user assigned to, and more. This elaborate customization makes completing tasks easier, especially when employees are required to reference previous work. Overall, cloud-based content management vastly improves collaboration methods, primarily due to increased security, flexibility, and accessibility. Businesses adept at collaboration should fully consider the advantages of content management software.

By Mike Mineo

Mike is a writer who has worked with a number of high-tech companies, most recently Contentverse, which is a user-friendly software that includes all the security, flexibility, and ease-of-access benefits in this article.

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Infographic: IoT Programming Essential Job Skills

Infographic: IoT Programming Essential Job Skills

Learning To Code As many readers may or may not know we cover a fair number of topics surrounding new technologies such as Big data, Cloud computing , IoT and one of the most critical areas at the moment – Information Security. The trends continue to dictate that there is a huge shortage of unfilled…

5 Considerations You Need To Review Before Investing In Data Analytics

5 Considerations You Need To Review Before Investing In Data Analytics

Review Before Investing In Data Analytics Big data, when handled properly, can lead to big change. Companies in a wide variety of industries are partnering with data analytics companies to increase operational efficiency and make evidence-based business decisions. From Kraft Foods using business intelligence (BI) to cut customer satisfaction analysis time in half, to a…

How Data Science And Machine Learning Is Enabling Cloud Threat Protection

How Data Science And Machine Learning Is Enabling Cloud Threat Protection

Data Science and Machine Learning Security breaches have been consistently rising in the past few years. Just In 2015, companies detected 38 percent more security breaches than in the previous year, according to PwC’s Global State of Information Security Survey 2016. Those breaches are a major expense — an average of $3.79 million per company,…

The Internet of Things Lifts Off To The Cloud

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Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

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5 Reasons Why Your Startup Will Grow Faster In The Cloud

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Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

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Big Data – Top Critical Technology Trend For The Next Five Years

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The Monstrous IoT Connected Cloud Market

The Monstrous IoT Connected Cloud Market

What’s Missing in the IoT? While the Internet of Things has become a popular concept among tech crowds, the consumer IoT remains fragmented. Top companies continue to battle to decide who will be the epicenter of the smart home of the future, creating separate ecosystems (like the iOS and Android smartphone market) in their wake.…

What You Need To Know About Choosing A Cloud Service Provider

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Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

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The Catch 22 The very same year Marc Andreessen famously said that software was eating the world, the Chief Information Officer of the United States was announcing a major Cloud First goal. That was 2011. Five years later, as both the private and public sectors continue to adopt cloud-based software services, we’re interested in this…

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

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How To Humanize Your Data The modern enterprise is digital. It relies on accurate and timely data to support the information and process needs of its workforce and its customers. However, data suffers from a likability crisis. It’s as essential to us as oxygen, but because we don’t see it, we take it for granted.…

Beacons Flopped, But They’re About to Flourish in the Future

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Maintaining Network Performance And Security In Hybrid Cloud Environments

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Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

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Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

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