Author Archives: CloudTweaks

Cloud Adoption Statistics

Cloud Adoption Statistics

Cloud adoption decisions will be taken in the near future by employees who do not have an IT background. That’s an interesting shift in the IT world! According to a report issued by Capgemini, chief marketing officers, executive and even people from human resource departments, finance or administration departments will be making some of these cloud adoption decisions. 460 organizations globally, 50 of them in the UK were surveyed for this report.

The main reason for this change might be that cloud adoption and implementation into the overall strategy of an organization and in different departments influences the activity of all employees, not only of those from the IT department. Therefore, the decisions will be made by people with – different positions within a company and not necessarily by those having an IT background. SaaS based solutions for CRM, accounting and marketing solutions for example do not require hardware and software maintained by an IT department so they are able to be managed from within the individual departments.

Even though collaboration between the team members and departments inside an organization is the main purpose for business-and cloud apps, there are some critical points to consider before adopting the cloud and not including someone from the IT department.

Here are the top five concerns for organizations moving to the cloud:

  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Federated Identity / Single Sign-On
  • Interoperability and Portability
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Despite these concerns, many organizations have moved to the cloud. It appears that the main reasons they do so are:

  • to increase productivity and efficiency
  • to follow similar companies that have moved applications to the cloud
  • to meet customer requirements.

And according to the Global Cloud Networking Survey by Cisco, the most desired application for cloud migration is Storage, followed by Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications, email and collaboration solutions. However, the top three applications that have been moved or are being planned to be moved to public or private clouds in the next year are: email and Web services, storage and collaboration solutions.

Taking into consideration these facts, the next few years are to be quite challenging both for the executives and for the cloud providers. Executives will be taking charge of essential decisions that involve cloud adoption and managing these providers, therefore this is a big step for the industry.

By Rick Blaisdell

Make A New Years Resolution To Explore The Cloud For Business Telephone Services

Make A New Years Resolution To Explore The Cloud For Business Telephone Services

Business owners and managers looking to capitalize on technologies that can increase efficiencies and reduce costs should be looking closely at Cloud-based services like a Hosted PBX business telephone system.  Many might be surprised to learn that this technology is well-established  (web-based e-mail has been around for more than a decade and is an everyday example of cloud technology ) and already well-know to the businesses community.

With recent IDC research indicating the world’s mobile worker population will grow to more than 1.3 billion (more than 37 percent of the total workforce) by 2015, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) should make it a New Years resolution to start capitalizing on the benefits of being on the cloud as soon as possible.

Moving Phone Service to the Cloud

One of the strongest strategies for SMEs is moving business phone service to the cloud.  Cloud-based technology powers the Hosted PBX, a solution that allows businesses of nearly any size to have a sophisticated telephone service with minimal or no investment in equipment. The service provider “hosts” the equipment and manages the network, and thus the business does not require an on-premise PBX system.  A Hosted PBX system also provides significant, long-term savings, with an impressive set of features and greatly simplified management and configuration.

A Hosted PBX lets employees work from home, remote offices, cell phones or even overseas while still being connected to the same office telephone service. The technology allows for video conferencing, which makes remote collaboration more effective than ever.  Thanks to the virtual nature of the service, companies looking to cut down on office and vehicle costs can easily de-centralize without customers ever hearing the difference.  All employees are still connected to each other as if they were in the same physical office space.

Hosted PBX advantages

Traditional on-site PBX systems, despite their often prohibitive costs, cannot match the advanced feature set of a Hosted PBX solution.  In addition to standard features such as auto-attendants with professional greetings, voicemail to e-mail and North American long-distance calling, a Hosted PBX gives companies who use their phones intensively the ability to go deeper.  With hunt groups, find-me/follow-me capability and time-based behaviors, the Hosted PBX is highly flexible.

For call centers and contact centers, which handle high call volume, the advantages can be even greater.  Advanced call queuing and skill-based routing help managers ensure the right agent always gets the call.   Ongoing reporting and performance tracking is made vastly more efficient with detailed, granular reports that managers can export at any time.  These reports include mission-critical metrics, such as number of calls answered and unanswered, average time to answer, average hold time and much more.

Through a user-friendly web interface, users with administrative access can easily modify nearly any aspect of the service.  Modifying an on-site PBX, for comparison, is considerably more complex and typically requires a service visit from a technician.

Getting to the Cloud

Business owners considering  a move to a Hosted PBX, option need to ensure they have the following to enable the transition:

•       Internet connection: with ample bandwidth for all staff using the phones.
•       Network equipment.  At a minimum you’ll need a business-grade router capable of serving multiple employees.  An unmanaged switch can expand the number of available ports, if required.  Most Hosted PBX providers sell or recommend appropriate network equipment.
•       Phones designed for Hosted PBX service.  Again, nearly all providers sell recommended models.
•       Power over Ethernet and battery backup: optional, but recommended for systems where constant phone connectivity is mission-critical.
•       Network/IT provider: optional.  Although not required for smaller and simpler systems, or deployments on which the customer is technically capable, an IT professional can be a powerful resource in a larger build-out.
With these relatively simple requirements, SMEs can quickly start enjoying the benefits of a sophisticated telephone system without the investment in telephone equipment.

By Adam Simpson

Adam Simpson is Founder and CEO of www.easyofficephone.com. Established in 2005, Easy Office Phone provides Business VoIP and Hosted PBX service to companies and organizations of all sizes throughout North America.

Cloud Infographic: Big Data And The Future Of Healthcare

Cloud Infographic: Big Data And The Future Of Healthcare

Cloud Infographic: Big Data and The Future Of Healthcare

The healthcare industry has been making its move toward technology, putting iPads and tablets into the hands of healthcare professionals and now, the latest big move has been adopting the concept of cloud computing to organize, share data and protect patient information and healthcare data from being tampered with or lost. Some might be wondering why medical professionals have waited this long to “hop on the cloud.” Perhaps the healthcare industry wasn’t ready before but they are definitely ready now…Continue Reading

BigDataFutureOfHealthcare

Infographic Source: InsuranceQuotes.org

The US Department Of Energy Is Finally Embracing Cloud Technology

The US Department of Energy is Finally Embracing Cloud Technology

A new DOE paper explains how national labs can migrate to the cloud without compromising security.

I’m sure it won’t come as a shock to anyone in the tech industry (or outside it for that matter) that the US government can be slow to adopt new ideas, but the DOE recently released a paper pushing all of its national labs to embrace cloud technology whenever possible.

The white paper, titled Department of Energy National Laboratories and Plants: Leadership in Cloud Computing, actually puts national labs like Fermi Lab and Lawrence Livermore in the position of having to justify not using cloud computing instead of the other way around.

This is partially just getting DOE agencies in line with the federally mandated 25 Point Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management, which originally created the ‘cloud first’ policy. Taking a cue from private enterprise, the government realizes that they would be missing out on huge savings if they continued to do all of their IT work in-house. The report specifically says, “A public cloud provider may be the best way to quickly get services to the business without adding trained staff and infrastructure.”

But what might be a simple migration for some government agencies is quite a bit trickier for the DOE because of their highly sensitive responsibilities.

To give you just one example, the DOE is partially responsible for maintaining US nuclear missile silos. Security is more important for them than practically anyone else on the planet.

The DOE cites IT advisory firm Gartner’s list of seven key security issues that need to be taken into account before moving to the cloud:

1.privileged user access
2.regulatory compliance
3.data location
4.data segregation
5.recovery
6.investigative support
7.long-term viability

It’s a pretty thorough list, and asking each national lab and their already busy personnel to tackle security reviews from scratch would result in a lot of duplicated effort, and probably quite a few security oversights as well.

That’s why the DOE is creating E-RAMP, a common framework for evaluating security issues surrounding cloud computing that all DOE agencies can use. Even though national labs have different goals and responsibilities, they will all use E-RAMP guidelines with the assurance that they are staying in line with DOE and federal regulations and using cloud computing responsibly.

I think this is really exciting for three reasons.

First, it’s a huge boost to cloud advocates like myself who are trying to convince businesspeople that cloud computing is safe. If even national labs working with state secrets are starting to use it, surely corporations should feel confident to migrate to the cloud as well.

Second, one of the main reasons that government is slow to adapt is because bureaucrats can be more concerned with playing it safe than getting the best possible results. E-RAMP tells those bureaucrats that they had better get moving to the cloud, but it also lets them know that as long as they follow E-RAMP they aren’t putting their jobs on the line. That’s a powerful combination for getting things done.

Finally, national labs employ thousands of people working on some of the most difficult computational problems in the world. When these groups move, en masse, to cloud computing they are going to create new challenges for the cloud sector to meet.

My regular readers know that I’m mostly interested in how cloud technology impacts the business world, and that’s just as true with this paper. I’m glad that the DOE, and the rest of the federal government, is coming around to the amazing potential of cloud computing, but I’m even more excited about the business opportunities that are just around the corner.

While the white paper itself might not be the most entertaining read, this new policy is going to spur growth and innovation in our industry for years to come and it’s something we should all be happy about.

Further Reading

Department of Energy National Laboratories and Plants: Leadership in Cloud Computing

By Jan Brass

About Jan Brass

Jan is a tech industry veteran and self-described geek. An avid blogger, Jan covers cloud technology news and publishes opinion pieces on cloud computing on her blog, http://janbrass.org.

Smyform Closes Strategic Investment From Second Century Ventures

Smyform Closes Strategic Investment From Second Century Ventures

Deal Includes Financing and a Strategic Partnership from the Venture Capital Fund of the National Association of REALTORS®

Seattle, Wash. – January 16, 2013Symform, a revolutionary, distributed cloud backup service, today welcomed Second Century Ventures (SCV), the venture capital fund of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), as a strategic investor in the company. SCV joined Symform’s $11 million Series B round of funding from 2012, which included financing from Longworth Venture Partners, OVP Venture Partners, and WestRiver Capital.

Second Century Ventures is committed to identifying and helping develop technology solutions that help our REALTOR® members maintain a competitive edge while growing their businesses,” said Dale A. Stinton, president of SCV and NAR chief executive officer. “As the volume of electronic information continues to grow, proper data backup and protection is becoming mission-critical for all businesses everywhere. Symform is a great fit in our investment portfolio and is also tailor-made for REALTORS®, who have a strong need for a cost-effective cloud data backup solution.

Symform is disrupting the multi-billion dollar global cloud data backup market with our unique decentralized solution,” said Matthew J. Schiltz, CEO of Symform. “Our strategic partnership with Second Century Ventures will put our unlimited cloud storage offerings into the hands of the member base of NAR, the largest trade association in the United States. This investment is an important validation of our model, and is additional momentum as we build the world’s largest virtual datacenter.”

Symform offers mid-market customers and IT resellers the most affordable, secure and reliable cloud storage and backup solution on the market today. The company will use the SCV financing to power product development and accelerate the adoption of Symform. The announcement caps a record-setting year for Symform, as the company’s Global Cloud Storage Network now reaches active users in 160 countries that trust Symform to store over 7 billion data fragments.

As part of the investment, Constance Freedman, managing director of Second Century Ventures, will join the Symform Board of Directors. As managing director at SCV, Freedman manages all aspects of the fund, from cultivating investment opportunities to helping portfolio companies achieve their strategic goals. Freedman is also NAR’s vice president of strategic investments, where she assesses key strategic investment initiatives within NAR.

For more information, or to join the Symform revolution, please visit www.symform.com.

About Second Century Ventures

Second Century Ventures (SCV) is a venture capital fund focused on promoting innovation in the real estate industry and helping to enable the entrepreneurial spirit of real estate thrive. SCV has been fully capitalized by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). With 1 million members, NAR is the largest trade association in the country. NAR can provide immediate strategic value to Second Century Ventures’ portfolio companies by allowing them access to the vast resources of a 300-person organization with expertise, influence and power that comes only by being ingrained in an industry for over 100 years.

About the National Association of REALTORS®

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

About Symform

The Symform Cloud Storage Network is a better way to store and backup all of your data. As the world’s first distributed and crowdsourced free online storage, Symform enables users to pay with bytes instead of bucks. Every business on the network contributes excess local drive space to the grid in exchange for secure, fast and reliable cloud data backup. Before data leaves the source device, it is encrypted and shredded, redundancy added, and then geo-distributed across the global network. With its proprietary and patented technology, Symform is building the world’s largest virtual datacenter using existing Internet infrastructure. Go to www.symform.com or email info@symform.com for more information.

Making Cloud Adoption In China A Reality (In Spite of Data Privacy and State “Secret” Laws)

Making Cloud Adoption in China a Reality (In Spite of Data Privacy and State “Secret” Laws)

Cloud computing has become a hot growth area in China, driven by both large-scale government initiatives and private investment. However, as alluring as the cloud is in China, for foreign firms trying to do business there, the uncertain legal environment can create a number of serious challenges.

Comprehensive, national regulations on data privacy remain in the draft stage, so for now, data privacy rules are “vague” and are often at the mercy of government interpretation. The legal framework for cloud services is flexible to the point of being unpredictable, especially since the Chinese government may claim national security as a rationale for almost any measure pertaining to data security and the internet/cloud. Sound intimidating? It can be, but “forewarned is forearmed,” so here are two key areas we all need to consider before jumping into the cloud in China.

Data Privacy Laws

No single national data privacy law exists in China, but working group recommendations are making their way through the national process. For example, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has issued a draft Information Security Technology – Guide of Personal Information Protection. But, until any recommendations become national law (and to some degree thereafter), there are over 200 local/provincial laws and sector-based regulations for businesses to navigate.

For example, take the Banking Law. Last year, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) issued the “Notice to Urge Banking Financial Institutions to Protect Personal Financial Information,” forbidding banks from storing or processing financial information obtained in China outside of the country. And financial information is defined as/includes: personal identity information, personal property information, personal account information, personal credit information, personal financial transaction information, derivative information; and other personal information acquired or stored in the process of developing business relationships with individuals. Basically, everything!

The good news at least is we’re getting closer to a national law. There is a convergence of new and revised privacy law provisions around the APEC privacy principles, a step in the right direction. But one area where significant differences still exist is in cross-border requirements. This issue, in particular, has proven to be a thorny challenge in other regions around the globe and it will undoubtedly continue to be a hot topic in China. When sensitive data flows across borders (as in the case of a China-based organization using a Western cloud service provider), questions such as “Where is my data located, both in production and in disaster recovery scenarios?” “Individuals with what citizenship have access to my data for hygiene and maintenance?” “Whose jurisdiction and laws apply to data traversing Chinese borders?” etc., complicate any cloud adoption strategy.

Dealing With “State Secrets”

Another key issue to consider is China’s focus on protecting “state secrets.” Chinese authorities are extremely concerned by the types of data transferred via the internet/cloud and the potential threats such transfers may cause to State security.

The Chinese State framework was revised by two important pieces of regulation:

  • Production, reproduction, access, dissemination and transfer of data out of China that may disclose state secrets are strictly forbidden.
  • Chinese authorities have broad discretion to determine the scope of State secrets

And consequences of violations can be significant: individuals employed by foreign companies in China have been known to actually be imprisoned. To further complicate secrecy matters, if data is suddenly considered a secret, that ruling is retroactive to all existing data: information currently stored in the cloud is now potentially in violation of the law.

So where does this leave us? Up a global business “creek” without a single, compliant paddle? Actually, there are in fact lifelines. Tokenization lets enterprises take advantage of the cloud and remain within jurisdictional/regulatory guidelines by ensuring that specified data stays resident, within control of a company’s home-based infrastructure. With tokenization, what travels to the cloud are random tokens as opposed to actual data – so information is undecipherable should it be hacked or improperly accessed. This allows companies to adopt cloud applications and uphold data privacy and compliance rules – even if there are 200 laws to consider. And employees accessing the protected cloud data can enjoy cloud application functionality and the same user experience on tokenized data as with the standard cloud SaaS application.

The key is to do your homework before diving into the Chinese cloud landscape. Because, while it’s clear that in order to keep pace with an ever-changing global economy, businesses have to keep pace with China, it’s also clear this is going to be a marathon – not a sprint.

By David Canellos

David Canellos is the CEO of PerspecSys, a leading provider of cloud data residency and security solutions for the enterprise.

Monitorscout.com – A Website And Server Monitoring Service

Monitorscout.com – A Website And Server Monitoring Service

Monitorscout.com – A Website And Server Monitoring Service

Monitor Scout is a website and server monitoring company based in Sweden with over 20 external monitoring locations across the globe. Their reliable monitoring solutions cover a wide range of devices and application including websites, servers, networks and web applications can keep downtime to a minimum. Through Monitor Scout’s various solutions, you will be able to identify latency and downtime issues at the earliest onset, allowing you to solve them even before your users get a wind of them. To ensure the maximum uptime, their notification system alerts you through Email and/or SMS when any issue arises.

Why choose Monitor Scout to monitor website and server?

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  • Monitor Scout’s recognized website and server monitoring services provide various benefits such as:
  • No software installation required.
  • Advanced warning of possible issues.
  • Access to top class internal server monitoring services with notifications for HDD, CPU, RAM, NIC and processes.
  • Internal and external monitoring with 50 different checks.
  • View historic data about your website downtime and uptime with an attractive user interface.
  • Carry out various monitor checks per device at frequent intervals.
  • Great technical support for the extensive number of protocols and applications available

Website Monitoring and its work-flow:

Website monitoring is defined as a process through which the performance and accessibility of the website is being observed and evaluated. With the help of Monitor Scout’s website monitoring solutions you can initiate various checks to monitor the response time and other performance metrics. A very essential feature that Monitor Scout offers is administrator notification through various means like emails, RSS feeds or text messages the moment technical issues are sensed.

How Monitor Scout Proceeds with Website Monitoring?

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If you are running an online business, then your top priority would be to make sure that your website remains available all the time. Your website largely depends on how well your web-hosting server operates. With this, Monitor Scout certainly comes in handy by checking the accessibility of your website from multiple locations and sends request to the universal ports of the hosting servers.

In website and server monitoring, there are a certain aspects that you need to focus on:

HTTP monitoring: Also known as Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, this monitoring checks the availability of the website.

DNS monitoring: this online monitoring service makes sure that your website domain name is being resolved correctly by the server.

Testing FTP: File Transfer Protocol works between port number 21 and 22. It helps in checking the speed and connectivity using the file transfer protocol for transferring files between computer networks for both downloading & uploading files.

Monitoring TCP: Transmission Control Protocol has been designed for smooth transfer of data from one device to another within a network.

Monitoring SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol works on port number 25. This monitoring check secures all emails associated with data of a network.

Testing POP3: This monitoring check retrieves or downloads e-mails from the remote servers. The POP or Post Office Protocol has been developed in various stages. At present, the standard version has been defined as POP3.

A Closer look at Server monitoring and its components:

How well your website works mainly depends upon the health of your server. In addition to this, you will find that your server also depends on the accuracy and performance of the set of programs and protocols as well as hardware components. With the help of a server monitoring systems you will be able to keep an eye on anything and everything including the CPU, RAM, HDD, NICs, Switch, router, etc.
How Monitor Scout helps in improving server performance?

By choosing server monitoring solutions you will not only be able to identify the issues with the system, but at the same time you can also enhance the performance of the server. It keeps you informed through SMS or email after gathering information from routine scheduled automated checks.

Let us now take a look at the different hardware statistics that should be monitored:

  • CPU is the core of any system so it should be logical to check for it regularly and see if certain processes are hogging CPU resources as this could mean that the application is misbehaving and should be terminated. It is also ideal to set thresholds as the CPU usage in order to prevent lockups.
  • RAM is another integral part of the system. All applications are using memory when being run, and some of them need more than others. RAM actually helps free up the CPU because processed data are stored in RAM so that they will not have to be processed by the CPU again. If there is less RAM, then processed data cannot often be store resulting in the CPU doing more work in order to provide the data to applications every time that it is required, instead of just fetching that data from RAM. The type of applications being run should be scaled according to the available RAM.

Disk space is a big factor but is becoming less of an issue as storage capacity technology is becoming cheaper. Still, this needs to be monitored simply for its performance and availability’s sake.

How Website and Server monitoring adds value to your business?

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  • With the help of a monitoring system you can assure customers that you can uphold the percent uptime that you have promised to provide.
  • This ensures greater visibility for your website and less frustration from customers which will certainly help improves your business.
  • With their routine and automatic monitoring solutions, you can ensure the health of your server and thus ensuring website stability and availability.

Free sign up for Website Monitoring to monitor your site from 20 locations across the globe and gets Email & SMS alert whenever your website goes offline.

By Abdul Salam

Sponsored Post by Monitorscout.com

Desktop as a Service – The New Trend Of 2013

Desktop as a Service – The New Trend Of 2013

As some voices in the industry recognize, it appears that Desktop as a Service will be one of the hot topics of 2013. DaaS is considered the ideal platform for cloud computing in small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). DaaS allows the outsourcing of the entire desktop environment to a third party service provider. The service can be purchased on a subscription basis.

The Desktop as a Service provider will manage upgrades, backup solutions and data storage. This will allow companies to focus on their business and goals. The service can be available on demand regardless of geographical location or organizational separation and access to the desktop is device, location and network independent.

DaaS – Hot Trend in 2013 for SMB

By using the DaaS model, companies don’t have to deal any longer with the purchasing, installation and ongoing operational issues that may occur when maintaining a desktop environment. Providing systems and software to the staff members or consultants has become a real challenge for small and medium-sized businesses. Therefore,  DaaS would be the most appropriate solution for users that will need to connect on any device, anywhere.

DaaS is recommended for a wide variety of computing scenarios where managing underlying infrastructure is not necessary. Some examples are traditional call centers or a fully mobile workforce.

The main benefits of Desktop as a Service are the following:

  • Hardware expenses are reduced and costs are scaled on monthly demand.
  • Employees can work anytime, anywhere. Virtual desktop systems can be accessed both from intelligent networks – enabled devices as a platform such as smartphones and tablets and from more traditional devices, such as laptops and desktop computers.
  • Daily maintenance and device deployments are automated.

DaaS may be a suitable solution for small and medium-sized businesses in the new year and many organizations might adopt this model in the future. However, before taking the decisions, enterprises must assure that their needs for off line availability, security, service levels and complying with laws and regulations will be met properly by this model and by the provider they choose.

By Rick Blaisdell

CloudTweaks Comics
Cloud Infographic – Disaster Recovery

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Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

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Cloud Computing – The Game Changer

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Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

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Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

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Cloud Infographic: IoT For Automotive Deconstructed

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Cloud Computing – The Real Story Is About Business Strategy, Not Technology

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Cloud Infographic – The Future Of Big Data

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Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

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Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

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Virtual Immersion And Virtual Reality This is a term I created (Virtual Immersion). Ah…the sweet smell of Virtual Immersion Success! Virtual Immersion© (VI) an extension/expansion of Virtual Reality to include the senses beyond visual and auditory. Years ago there was a television commercial for a bathing product called Calgon. The tagline of the commercial was Calgon…

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Federal Government Cloud Adoption No one has ever accused the U.S. government of being technologically savvy. Aging software, systems and processes, internal politics, restricted budgets and a cultural resistance to change have set the federal sector years behind its private sector counterparts. Data and information security concerns have also been a major contributing factor inhibiting the…