Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Cloud Infographic – Big Business Is Still Learning

Cloud Infographic – Big Business Is Still Learning

Big Business Is Still Learning

Although the Cloud has been around for some time now, there continues to be many myths about how it works and what advantages it holds. Many businesses remain hesitant to implement fully-hosted solutions within their organization, specifically for functions like unified communications (UCaaS), despite the fact that the clear majority of IT professionals said they recognize the cloud’s benefits and believed quality of service would not suffer due to the transition.  It seems that many companies and IT managers still have concerns about the cloud’s costs and security.

Over 300 IT managers were surveyed and while the clear majority realized the benefits of the cloud and believed quality of service would not suffer due to the transition, many remain hesitant to implement fully-hosted solutions, especially in regards to UCaaS.

  • More than half of IT Managers said they don’t believe communication services providers offer sufficient security checks alongside their cloud telecommunications offerings
  • 54% expect to recoup the entire cost of shifting to the cloud while 46% disagreed, saying the ROI is not there just yet
  • Just 40% said their organization has plans to move voice/telephony communications to the cloud

Infographic and survey provided courtesy of the group at West IP.

WestIP-Cloud-Infographic-FINAL

Trillions at Stake in Commercial Development of Driverless Cars

Trillions at Stake in Commercial Development of Driverless Cars

Commercial Development of Driverless Cars

An international race is on to develop driverless cars that will free our cities from congestion, and there are trillions of dollars at stake.

With Google currently seen to be leading the race to develop driverless cars commercially, eight or more car manufacturers have made it clear that they are also in it to win it, or at least share in the enormous potential profits. These include Audi, Daimler, Delphi, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, BMW, Tesla, and Volvo.

BMW-Future-cars

(Image Source: All-electric BMW i3 – Yauhen_D / Shutterstock)

A recent Forbes news report that names interested vehicle manufacturers also points out that “trillions are at stake.” With new vehicle sales in the US accounting for a mere 19 percent of global auto sales, the potential is astounding – especially since income relating to the annual US automotive industry tops more than $2.5 trillion. National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) figures show that new vehicles accounted for $464.3 billion in 2014 alone.

The same report also claims that driverless taxis would disrupt the US car rental trade by some $26 billion. This could impact dramatically on public transportation as a whole, even as frontrunners developing driverless cars will be sure to make money, and lots of it.

At the same time, it will also depend whether “driverless” cars are completely unmanned or not. While Google is aiming for totally autonomous, driverless cars, Tesla, for example, has said it will focus on autopilot and release drivers from “tedious tasks” rather than get rid of the driver completely.

Another issue is safety.

Self-Driving Cars and Accidents

Google announced this week that the self-driving cars it has been testing in California – on the open road, including highways – have been involved in a total of 11 accidents during the past six years. The company maintains that all accidents were “minor” and that the cars weren’t the cause of any of the accidents. The claim is that other drivers crashed into driverless cars (so not my fault).

According to Google’s director of the self-driving program, Chris Urmson, rear-end crashes account for the most accidents in the US, “and often there’s little the driver in front can do to avoid getting hit.

This might sound minimal, but in real terms, these accidents involved four of the 48 self-driving cars on Californian roads (8.3 percent), and they all happened in the past eight months since it became mandatory to report all accidents being tested on public roads. One car belonged to Delphi (that supplies parts), and the others to Google.

Whatever the impact (physical or financial) companies that don’t want to get rid of drivers totally have some confidence that drivers can prevent accidents. This becomes a real issue when conditions aren’t perfect, says Pat Bassett, vice president of the North American research and engineering center for Denso. For this reason there are, he says “still some technical challenges and some legal issues that have to be resolved.”

After all, if nobody is driving, who will be held responsible?

Nevertheless when and if self-driving cars become a daily reality, there is no doubt that traffic patterns will change.

How Shared Self-Driving Cars Could Change City Traffic

A new study by the International Transport Forum (ITF) indicates how driverless cars are likely to change traffic congestion in the world’s cities. “Impact on travel volume Shared and self-driving fleets hold much promise for reducing the number of cars in our cities…

car-sharing

(Image Source: International Transport Forum)

Ultimately, self-driving cars could remove nine out of ten cars from city streets and make them redundant. This scenario would free up vast amounts of public space that would not need to be used for parking. The question is probably not how many driverless cars will ultimately take to the streets of USA, but which companies will make money from them.

By Penny Swift

Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

CIOs Must Transform IT

The emergence of the Cloud and its three delivery models of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) has dramatically impacted and forever changed the delivery of IT services. Cloud services have pierced the veil of IT by challenging traditional method’s dominance and forcing internal IT departments to compete with alternative Cloud-based solutions. Business Unit Managers (BUM) and Lines of Business (LOB) have fueled the Shadow IT movement by directly purchasing IT solutions from Cloud providers without the approval, or even involvement, of their IT department—and this is only the beginning.

Shadow IT

Moving forward, new Cloud services will continue to evolve and further compete with internal IT departments for business. If your department isn’t ready for this change, be prepared to watch the migration of IT services to the cloud diminish the role of your IT operations.

What is ITaaS?

In order for traditional IT to continue, remain viable and thrive in the organization it must transform into IT as a Service (ITaaS). What is ITaaS? Wikipedia defines it as “a competitive business model where an enterprise IT organization views the LOBs as having many options for IT services and the IT organization has to compete against those other options in order to be the provider to the needs of the LOBs. Options for providers other than the internal IT organization may include outsourcing companies and public cloud providers.

Why ITaaS? Let’s review this in the next section.

Benefits of ITaaS

In short, ITaaS can transform IT from a cost-center to a strategic part of the enterprise.

Adopting an ITaaS mentality will enable IT to adopt a business-centric approach with a focus on collaborating with the business units to understand their needs and requirements in order to become a strategic partner rather than a combative force to be avoided. This new relationship will enable IT to better understand and thereby deliver solutions that meet the needs of the LOBs.

Standardization And Simplification

Developing an ITaaS model also forces IT through the exercise of productizing its offering. In order to achieve this, IT needs to simplify and standardize, creating predictable, repeatable results thereby increasing their success rate while delivering a consistent user experience. Another result of standardization and simplification is increased operational efficiency leading to a lower cost needed to compete with the services delivered from external cloud providers.

By creating a more transparent pricing model IT will now be able to accurately chargeback the business units for their services. Business units will now be enabled to directly see their cost in comparison to consumption of IT resources. This allows them to compare internal versus external cost and rest assured they are getting the most for their spend.

By leveraging their newly optimized internal services with certain cloud services, in-house IT pros can build a hybrid offering that encompasses the best possible solution and cost for the business units. Not only will this cement IT’s strategic partnership with the business units, it demonstrates how IT is supplying the optimal solution—be it internal or external—and fosters the idea that the business units should involve IT in all projects. These strategic steps in turn reduce—or even eliminate—the Shadow IT movement, which in some cases can be destructive to a company.

Lastly, as demonstrated above, if IT combines its newly formed ITaaS model with other available cloud services the enterprise truly becomes agile and scalable with limitless potential previously unavailable. This is another proof point around why ITaaS helps IT departments becomes a strategic contributor to the enterprise.

Is ITaaS for everyone?

The answer to this question should be answered by each enterprise. ITaaS can be a powerful and game-changing shift for the IT department, though the process is resource intensive and time consuming.

The argument can be made that the transformation into ITaaS is only justified for larger organizations that churn out more projects. That said, it’s important for every IT department to understand the benefits ITaaS delivers and try to incorporate them into their organization no matter the size. Smaller organizations can implement pieces of ITaaS in order to achieve standardization, lower cost and improved delivery.

In conclusion

The Cloud has reached a tipping point and is here to stay—and that is a good thing in many ways. It is driving down the cost of IT and delivering innovation.

As an IT pro, harness the power of the Cloud and use it to your advantage, but also learn from its benefits and build a version of ITaaS in your enterprise that fits the need of your organization. If you do this, I know you will not only succeed, but thrive. Never forget IT requires continuous improvement and Cloud providers are pushing the limits so you better keep up.

By Marc Malizia

5 Companies That Took On The Small Business Cloud – And Won

5 Companies That Took On The Small Business Cloud – And Won

The Small Business Cloud

We take a look at 5 world-leading tech companies that have brought ground-breaking new cloud services to SMEs 

Plenty of organisations have broken into new markets with innovative cloud-based products. Discover which companies have successfully taken on the small business Cloud.

Cloud based computer systems are ideally suited to support the needs of small businesses. Whereas traditional business support systems are installed on a company server or individual desktop computers, meaning each has to be managed and maintained by the business, cloud solutions offer software as a service (SAAS) that can be accessed over the internet.

Cloud software does not require expensive hardware upgrades or IT technicians to install and configure complex systems, making it a much cheaper investment for smaller, growing businesses. However, many service providers have developed solutions for big businesses with big budgets that SMEs cannot afford.

Here, we discuss some of the companies that have put the needs of SMEs first and foremost and are creating excellent solutions that can be implemented in small offices.

Sage

Sage was founded in 1981 in Newcastle, UK, by a businessman and an ex-NASA computer scientist. Their aim was to create a more efficient way for businesses to generate quotations. The result was the development of an innovative piece of accounting software that was launched to the market as Sage.

Sage quickly became a leader in business accounting software and in 1999, just 18 years after its development, it became a FTSE 100 company. Sage is now going through a new phase of growth thanks to its cloud based accounting product, Sage 200 Online. Their software is a perfect choice for growing businesses that need to scale up their accounting and software packages quickly to meet increasing demand.

By creating a cloud based solution, Sage is able to deliver its software to a global market. Sage recognises that small businesses have limited IT budgets and provides affordable but scalable packages to suit. The results? One of the world’s leading business accounting packages is now available globally over the internet.

Salesforce

Salesforce Service Cloud Logo

The Salesforce team recognised the potential of offering CRM over the internet very early on and launched Salesforce.com in 1999. Today, Salesforce is one of the world’s largest cloud computing companies, with over 100,000 customers and 2.1 million subscribers.

Since launching, Salesforce has made almost 30 acquisitions to ensure that it remains a global leader in cloud CRM. It has also developed two parallel products, Force.com, a platform as a service (PaaS) and Data.com, a cloud-based business database. Both of these products operate direct from the Salesforce infrastructure.

CRM was only developed as a software concept during the 1990s. Salesforce’s insight allowed the company to develop the first cloud CRM product and quickly corner the market.

PayPal

PayPal was developed in 1998, the same year as Google. When it was first introduced, PayPal was a money transfer service for Cofinity, its parent company. The PayPal product was launched in 1999 and its rapid success resulted in the company name change.

PayPal was soon purchased by eBay, who saw the advantage of owning their own internet payment service. For many years PayPal continued to be a simple solution to allow people to transfer funds online.

PayPal’s best strategic move was to start working with global banking institutions to allow PayPal customers to accept payments from credit and debit cards and transfer funds to and from their customer’s bank accounts. This allowed them to launch their PayPal for business solutions, which allow businesses around the world to make fast and secure payments for services.

Prior to PayPal, businesses needed to make cash transfers using banking IBAN codes – a much more complex and time consuming process. PayPal is now helping businesses globally; it operates in 203 markets and has over 150 million active account holders.

Cisco

Cisco was founded in 1984 as a computer network provider when the internet was first being developed. Cisco has rapidly evolved to remain at the forefront of computing network technology and provide businesses with affordable and robust solutions.

Cisco have embraced the Internet of Everything, or as they call it, the InterCloud, and produce services that help small businesses integrate Internet based services into their workflow. The connection of devices and machines allows businesses to dynamically generate and analyse business data.

In 2013 they acquired Sourcefire, network security software that operates over the Cloud. In the same year they also acquired SolveDirect, a cloud-based solution that allows businesses to integrate with service partners and automate the sharing of information.

Microsoft

microsoft-cloud-t

Microsoft has always supported small businesses, but its latest cloud offerings take this to a new level. Every Windows user will be familiar with Microsoft’s core office software solutions; these are usually installed on a computer when the Windows operating system is first installed.

Microsoft’s cloud services provide businesses with CRM, conferencing and email without the need to install and manage software in-house. These services are great for small businesses because they provide monthly subscriptions so that businesses are not tied-in to products that fail to meet specific business needs. Microsoft helps small businesses to set up systems by using a network of third party suppliers, which although are not required, can make the transition much smoother for small businesses with little experience with IT and software installations.

The rapid development of cloud based software services is revolutionising how small businesses operate. The major players continue to develop services designed to support businesses of all sizes, and as a result, our SMEs are able to compete in a wider economic market.

Stay tuned this week for the continuation…5 companies that took on the small business cloud – and lost!

By Gary Gould

Eastern Super-powers Pledge To Fight Cyber Security

Eastern Super-powers Pledge To Fight Cyber Security

Russia and China Pledge to Fight Together for Cyber Security

The world’s two eastern super-powers, Russia and China, have pledged not to attack one another in cyber space and to fight together for “international information security.” More simply, this is seen as a “nonaggression pact in cyberspace,” at a time when relations between the US and Russia are very seriously strained.

The cyber security deal was one of a total of 32 agreements signed by the two nations during a visit to Russia by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China at the weekend.

In a statement, Xi Jinping said he had held “substantial talks” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that they had agreed to continue to develop strategic cooperation and mutual foreign policy support.

In the high-powered publicized on the Russian Government website, the two leaders agreed they would do everything in their power to ensure that the internal political and socio-economic “atmosphere” was not destabilized. They also agreed they would do all they could to ensure public order was not disturbed.

The agreement between the two countries identified the primary threats to information security, and also determined the principles, main areas of interest, mechanisms and forms of cooperation between them. In terms of the agreement, both information technology (IT) and cyber threat data will be shared.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described this as a “strategic partnership,” and stated that the agreement would help to mutually promote a “beneficial cooperation” between China and Russia.

What the Pact Means to the West and US

cyber-security

In an interview transmitted on the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society in Berkeley, California, said the two eastern super-powers had clearly teamed up because both found themselves “at odds with the West.”

He said they had a number of common interests, including:

  • Energy that Russia can offer China
  • Weapons that Russia can supply to China
  • A common 5,000-mile border
  • Psychological symmetry of two “big empires” that have suffered at the hands of Japan and the West

According to Ian Wallace of the New America Foundation’s Cybersecurity Initiative, the joint interest of Russia and China in information security is very different to that in the US and in Europe. He believes the primary interest of Russia and China focuses on “regime stability.”

It is probably also inevitable, following the breakdown of cyber relations between the US and both Russia and China. In 2014 a Russian-US “cyber working group” collapsed after the Russian military offensive in Ukraine. A similar China-US working group also collapsed after five members of the Chinese military were indicted by the US Government for hacking. Different reasons, same result.

China has also come under fire for trying to force US companies operating in that country to use encryption coding approved in Beijing, and make them supply source code to the government for inspection.

The primary difference is that the US, Europe and other Western nations see the Internet as a free hub, while Russia, China and other like-minded nations believe digital data should be controlled at government level. Putin has gone so far as to claim that the Internet was launched as “a CIA project.

Certainly the new cyber security deal between China and Russia is going to set a precedent for cyber security issues facing these two eastern nations.

By Penny Swift

Wearable Fitness Devices – The Internet of Fitness IoF

Wearable Fitness Devices – The Internet of Fitness IoF

Wearable Fitness Devices

The Internet of Fitness IoF (or IoT helping you get fit)

The tracking of your personal fitness has recently exploded. Fitness devices are probably the number one wearable IoT device out there. You now have the opportunity to take part in a valuable community experience by joining a connected fitness challenge. First off, connected fitness is a thing, really. The concept is quite simple: You get a device that measures what you are doing fitness wise and then share that with the world. Of course, this raises a few important questions around what you share and how you share it.

Our first consideration is the timing of the information. Timing is critical. If you share actively while you are actually working out, you present the “I am not currently at home now” risk. That is the same risk you face when “checking in” to various places on the internet. If you are at the airport now, you aren’t at home. The same is true of fitness activities. So the first thing to do is turn off the real time updates. In the end, none of us need to know when you stop by the Stop and Shop, or are getting coffee at a local coffee place.

wearable-fitness

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

This presents our next consideration: What do you share? The reality is that people in the beginning of a process tend to share too much information, so you have to consider what you are sharing with your various online communities. This applies to all of the information you share, not only to your fitness communities. In addition to turning off real time updates to prevent potential intruders from knowing you’re away from home, you should avoid posting vacation photos until after you return. Likewise, you should only use an out of office notice for your work email and phone, but never on your house and personal phones. The other side of what you share is the actual information. For example, posting how many steps you took yesterday isn’t bad. Posting the route you took isn’t good. Posting your blood pressure on a site you and your doctor can access is good. Posting your blood pressure to the world, not so good. In the end, as you begin gathering this information start asking yourself what I want people to know. Then it becomes easy to determine what you are going to share.

Don’t Be Discouraged

Despite the potential risks associated with oversharing, joining a fitness community can be a great source of motivation. If you are interested in comparing your progress with your friends, then posting your numbers for others to see becomes an important part of your community experience. This is especially true if you’re even slightly competitive, as knowing that others are exceeding your performance is an incredible motivator. If this describes you, then finding a safe balance for posting your data online and having other people connected to that data is key to your online community engagement. If you aren’t competitive, you can still post your data online – just don’t compare yourself to others. This sharing can still be a source of encouragement as your friends can see your personal progress and milestones over time, and you can celebrate each other’s successes.

Wearable fitness devices offer great benefits both in improving your health but also in helping you create a support community. Averaging 10,000 steps a day in the end make you healthier. Sharing that with people who care is even better. However, sharing your specific medical metrics like blood sugar levels or announcing you’re away from home are another thing altogether.

As wearable IoT continues to expand further and further into the personal fitness market it’s important to remember the initial rules: Don’t post your data real time. Your friend may cheer you on for doing that, but the burglar waiting for your home to be empty will cheer you on as well. Uploading after you are done is a great way to engage with your community and gain a great sense of accomplishment. By carefully considering what you share and how you share it, you can enjoy the health and emotional benefits of connected fitness while protecting yourself from potential threats.

By Scott Andersen

The Evolution of Technology Devices

The Evolution of Technology Devices

Evolution of Technology Devices

We’re all aware that technology is developing at a rapid rate, but the fact that the first iPhone was only invented in 2007 makes you realise just how quickly it’s evolving. It seems that size definitely matters – though bigger isn’t always better.

In 1971, IBM introduced the commercially available floppy disk under the name Minnow. In 1970 IBM had applied for a U.S patent Nr. 3678481 which was granted in 1973. The first floppy disk was available with 80KB of capacity, and in 2003 PCs were still being shipped with floppy disk drives. Today, your 1TB USB stick is holding 728,177 times the data of one of those floppy disks, and taking up a lot less space in your office.

The average size of television screens in the 1960s was 17” and cost around 7% of the average household income, while 2015 boasts an average screen size of 60” costing only 2.5% of the average household income. With regard to screen size, I think we’ll all agree that bigger is better! Or perhaps the smaller price takes the cake?

Connectivity has rocketed from 56kbps in the ‘90s to today’s 1gbps, and mobile phones have morphed  from their early ‘brick’ form, to compact flip phones, to the slim-but-large-screened smart phones of today.

internet-speeds

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

While technology might suggest that newer is always better, The Guardian points out a few instances where our hopes for the future have been dashed.  The modern jetpack doesn’t quite live up to the stylish option James Bond travelled with, and though today’s hoverboard is nothing to sniff at, it’s nothing like the flying skateboard of Back to the Future. Looking at some of these examples, it’s really no wonder Retro is synonymous with cool.

Attached is an infographic provided by the crew at TSG (Technology Services Group) offering an interesting perspective.

Data-Storage-Infographic

Exciting Job Opportunities In Several Tech Fields

Exciting Job Opportunities In Several Tech Fields

Exciting Job Opportunities

CompTIA has released a report projecting a growth of 5.1% in IT spending this year, and though more than Gartner and IDC expect, they too estimate considerable escalation. According to Infoworld, 2014 saw a 2.4% increase in IT employment, representing more than 100,000 jobs – 2015 could see this figure increase. According to the US department of labour, web development jobs experienced the highest growth in 2014 at 4%, and employment of information security analysts, software systems developers and network and computer systems administers increased between 1.8% and 3.6%.

shutterstock_211835152

Top Jobs

Earlier this year, Glassdoor released a list of the 25 Best Jobs in America for 2015, and ten of them are in the IT sector. Software Engineer takes second place, with Database Administrator and Data Scientist in the top ten. Solutions Architect boasts one of the highest average base salaries, though all of the listed IT occupations offer decent remuneration. US News puts Software Developer at the top of its list of best tech jobs for 2015 and predicts a flood of new jobs in the IT market over the next seven years, with a forecast of a 36.5% increase in demand for Information Security Analysts.

What You Need

While certainly the place to be, the range of skills required to work successfully in IT is broad, and with constant technological evolution, skills often need to be updated just as you think you’ve mastered them. Inc recommends that 2015 is the time for honing your skills in coding, big data, cloud computing, mobile computing, data visualisation and UX design skills, while Training Journal insists that more problem solving skills are critical in IT. FierceCIO advises that business skills should not be overlooked, as many key IT roles require an excellent sense of the business and its workings in order to best perform their roles.

Where It’s Happening

Forbes has detailed the highest-paying cities for tech jobs in the US, with Silicon Valley at the top of their list, followed by Seattle, Washington, DC and Boston. Austin, Texas is credited with the strongest tech sector employment expansion from 2004 to 2014, with Raleigh, North Carolina close behind. In the UK, The Telegraph puts Manchester and Bristol close to London’s top earning average, and notes that Bristol, Brighton and Cambridge offer higher rates to freelancers working in the cloud sector than London.

Wherever you are, it seems 2015 is the year for technology, and if the predictions for IT pay off the future is bright. IT professionals possessing the top skills as well as the ability to pull together various IT services and business acumen are in demand, and it looks like that trend will only increase in the coming years.

Jennifer Klostermann

CloudTweaks Comics
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7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

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